The Orion capsule’s heat shield survived its test flight back in December just fine. In fact, Orion Program Manager Mark Kirasich says it “met every expectation” during reentry, enduring temperatures that reached 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Thanks to the data NASA gathered from the same test, though, its engineers were able to come to the conclusion that the heat shield used for that flight won’t make it through Orion’s first mission with the Space Launch System scheduled to happen in 2018. The multi-purpose vehicle will travel farther during the Exploration Mission 1 three years from now. As such, it’s bound to encounter colder temperatures and to travel faster — and hence, face even worse heat — upon reentry.
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SOURCE: Engadget, Mariella Moon