Date: Dec. 7, 2012
Time: 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. EST
Topic: Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3)
On Dec. 7, 2012, Walter Bruce, a senior thermal engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia answered student questions about NASA's Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment, or IRVE-3, an experiment designed to demonstrate the feasibility of inflatable spacecraft technology. The technology could be used to protect spacecraft when entering a planet's atmosphere or returning to Earth.
Bruce is working on the IRVE-3, which is one of NASA's many research efforts to develop new technologies to advance space travel. It's part of a project called Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, or HIAD.
Space vehicles that enter a planetary atmosphere, like Earth's or Mars', require the use of a thermal protection system to protect them from aerodynamic heating. Several types of thermal protection systems have been used throughout the history of spaceflight. Now NASA is working on HIAD, a new kind of lightweight reentry system that includes an inflatable heat shield allowing a spacecraft to safely enter and descend through the atmosphere.
Bruce is from Yorktown, Va. After graduating from Tabb High School, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C.
As a pastime, Bruce enjoys running and is a member of Langley Research Center's Runners Club.
› Launchpad: Mission Infusion - A Look at What's Ahead
› Launchpad: Descent and Landing - It's a Matter of Control
› NASA eClips™ - Other Launchpad Videos
› IRVE-3 video
› Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator