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Heat Shield Arrives At KSC, Ahead Of NASA's Orion Test Flight

Photo: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
Photo: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

The heat shield for NASA’s next deep-spacecraft arrived at Kennedy Space Center, ahead of a 2018 test flight.

The shield attaches to the bottom of the Orion spacecraft, and protects the capsule from the extreme temperatures of re-entry.

The Orion capsule is NASA’s deep space craft. The plan is to send the capsule to places like an orbit around the moon and eventually Mars.

The heat shield arrived at Kennedy Space Center on NASA’s Super Guppy, an airplane designed to transport bulky spacecraft parts. This heat shield is about 16 feet in diameter.

It’s being processed at the Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Facility for Exploration Mission 1, an unpiloted test flight on a trip around the moon in 2018.

Upon re-entry of the Earth’s atmosphere, the shield will protect Orion from temperatures of about 5,000 degrees.

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.