Nasa happy with heat shield test

An experimental inflatable heat shield for future spacecraft landings has successfully survived a test launch that brought it through the earth’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 7,600 mph, Nasa said yesterday.

The purpose of the launch was to determine whether a space capsule can use an inflatable outer shell to slow and protect itself as it enters an atmosphere at hypersonic speed.

The IRVE-3 heat shield is a cone made up of inflatable rings that are wrapped in layers of high-tech thermal blankets to protect it – and its space capsule – from the searing heat of re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere.