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NASA Tests Shields Off Virginia Coast

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Workers from ILC Dover and NASA Langley inflated and tested the Inflatable Re-Entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE) in preparation for this summer's planned launch at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
NASA/Sean Smith
Workers from ILC Dover and NASA Langley inflated and tested the Inflatable Re-Entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE) in preparation for this summer's planned launch at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

NASA is testing a new re-entry vehicle off the coast of Virginia. The Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment was launched Monday morning on a small sounding rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility off the Virginia coast.

The vehicle is actually a 10-foot diameter inflatable heat shield, filled with nitrogen. The mushroom shaped shield was lifted 131 miles above the surface of earth and released to fall down to the earth.

An on-board telemetry system recorded data before the apparatus splashed down and sank in the Atlantic Ocean about 90 miles east of Wallops Island. NASA says the successful test is paving the way for more advanced heat shields that could be used in future planetary missions.

Sabri Ben-Achour reports...

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