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Watch It! NASA Set to Fly Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (Update 2)

Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) Credit: NASA

UPDATE: IRVE-3 Scores Successful Test

A large inflatable heat shield developed by NASA’s Space Technology Program has successfully survived a trip through Earth’s atmosphere while travelling at hypersonic speeds up to 7,600 mph.

The Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) was launched by sounding rocket at 7:01 a.m. Monday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.

The purpose of the IRVE-3 test was to show that a space capsule can use an inflatable outer shell to slow and protect itself as it enters an atmosphere at hypersonic speed during planetary entry and descent, or as it returns to Earth with cargo from the International Space Station.

After its flight, IRVE-3 fell into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina. From launch to splashdown, the flight lasted about 20 minutes. A high-speed U.S. Navy Stiletto boat is in the area with a crew that will attempt to retrieve IRVE-3.

IRVE-3 is part of the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) Project within the Game Changing Development Program, part of NASA’s Space Technology Program.

Plummet back to Earth

After launch the IRVE-3 separated from the sounding rocket, its aeroshell was pumped full of nitrogen and then the inflated heat shield and payload plummeted back through Earth’s atmosphere into ocean waters.

Cameras and instruments will transmit pictures and data to researchers in the Wallops control room the entire time.IRVE-3 is one of several NASA projects to develop new technologies to advance space travel.

An inflatable heat shield could accommodate larger payloads that could deliver more and heavier science instruments and tools for exploration – changing the way other worlds, such as Mars, are explored.

NASA Television will air the IRVE-3 launch live and stream it on the agency’s website at:

For more information about IRVE-3 and the HIAD project, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/hiad

By Leonard David

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