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John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: (650) 604-5026 / 9000

May 11, 2006
NASA Ames Tests Heat Shield Samples for Spaceship Capsule
As it streaks into Earth's atmosphere after a trip to the moon, the heat shield of NASA's spaceship of the future must endure searing temperatures capable of melting any metal.

Initial tests of materials that could be used in the heat shield for the new spaceship, the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), were recently completed at NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.

News media are invited to Ames' arc jet facility, Bldg. N234, on Thursday, May 18, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. PDT to see small heat shield samples that engineers tested in an apparatus that NASA engineers describe as a 'room-size blowtorch.' The initial testing at Ames is part of the advanced development activity needed to create a heat shield for the CEV crew capsule. At 10:30 a.m. PDT, there also will be short presentation in the arc jet facility, where the tests were conducted.

NASA is working to create and test the 16.5-foot (5-meter) diameter, Frisbee-shaped heat shield that will be attached to the base of the cone-shaped CEV crew capsule. The shield must protect the capsule and its astronaut crew from the searing heat that develops during flight through the atmosphere when returning from either low-Earth orbit, or from the moon.

The tests are among the first steps NASA Ames is taking to design and test a new space exploration system that will return human beings to the moon and support later missions to Mars. Several other NASA facilities across the nation also are taking part in the development effort.

WHAT: Opportunity to view CEV heat shield materials, see a presentation about the arc jets in which the materials were tested and view the arc jet facility, which resembles a room-size blow torch. Reporters may also interview NASA Ames scientists and engineers.

WHEN: A tour of the Ames arc jet facility, Bldg. N234, will be held on Thursday, May 18, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. PDT. A short presentation, including projected images, will be at 10:30 a.m. PDT.

WHO: George Sarver, who leads Ames CEV support office, will participate in interviews with the media. James Reuther of NASA Ames, the project manager for the CEV Thermal Protection System, Advanced Development Project, and engineers also will be available to speak with reporters.

WHERE: NASA Ames arc jet complex, Bldg. N234. News media representatives who wish to attend the arc jet tour should report to Ames' Visitor Badging Office, located at the Ames main gate. To reach Ames, take the Moffett Field exit off Highway 101 and drive east to the main gate and Visitor Badging Office.

Publication-size images related to the CEV capsule's heat shield material testing are available at:

Additional information about NASA's effort to develop a new spaceship is on the World Wide Web at:


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