Chris Rink
757-864-6786, 757-344-7711
NASA Talk Examines How ''Hot Shots'' Made Shuttle Safer
HAMPTON, Va. -- When NASA needed real-time damage assessment of the Shuttle during landing, they looked to NASA Langley Research Center to take the thermal snapshots.

At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at NASA Langley's Pearl Young Theater here, Thomas Horvath, a senior research engineer in aerothermodynamics, will present "Keeping an Eye on the Shuttle During Reentry -- The HYTHIRM Project." Horvath will provide a behind the scenes look at how the Hypersonic Thermodynamic Infrared Measurements (HYTHIRM) team trained to undertake this complex mission.

Horvath will be available to answer questions from the media during a news briefing at 1:15 p.m. that day. Media who wish to attend should contact Chris Rink at 757-864-6786, or by e-mail at, by noon on the day of the talk for credentials and entry to the center.

That same evening at 7:30, Horvath will present a similar talk for the general public at the Virginia Air & Space Center in downtown Hampton. The presentation is free and no reservations are required.

The HYTHIRM team was formed after the successful landing of Space Shuttle Discovery on Aug. 9, 2005. Just days before Discovery's entry, the Shuttle was repaired during a space walk because damage occurred when debris separated from the external tank during ascent. The repair was a necessary but risky procedure due to uncertainties in engineering tools designed to assess damage.

To improve the modeling and engineering tools for use on future spacecraft designs, the HYTHIRM team needed thermal snapshots of the Shuttle's exterior temperatures during descent. Horvath's presentation will provide a behind the scenes look using actual footage of how a Navy NP-3D Orion aircraft was strategically positioned below the Shuttle during several reentries to remotely monitor heating using a special long-range infrared camera. Thermal observations of the Shuttle were collected during seven missions over the last two and a half years.

Horvath, the HYTHIRM principal investigator, has worked at NASA Langley for 25 years. During his professional career, the results of Horvath's research have been published in over 100 NASA and journal publications affecting the design and flight of many Agency, DoD, and industry aerospace vehicle programs. He also provided scientific and technical contributions to the Shuttle Columbia accident investigation.

NASA presented Horvath with the Exceptional Engineering Medal in 2005 and an Agency Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal in 2006. Recently, he supported a multi-center industry team that provided real-time flight support to the Shuttle damage assessment team.

For more information about NASA Langley's Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures, visit:

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