The heat shield for NASA’s Orion spacecraft was loaded onto a Super Guppy plane in Manchester, N.H., for transport to Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Images © NASA
The heat shield, the largest of its kind ever built, is being unloaded Thursday, Dec. 5, and is scheduled for installation on Orion in March 2014.
The heat shield will be used in September 2014 during Exploration Flight Test-1, a two-orbit flight that will take an uncrewed Orion capsule to an altitude of 3,600 miles. The returning capsule is expected to encounter temperatures of almost 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it travels through Earth’s atmosphere at up to 20,000 mph, faster than any spacecraft in the last 40 years.