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Published on Jul 18, 2012
Researchers from NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., will launch and deploy a large inflatable heat shield aboard a rocket traveling at hypersonic speeds during a technology demonstration test from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. The test is designed to demonstrate that lightweight, yet strong, inflatable structures may become practical tools for exploration of other worlds or a way to safely return items from the International Space Station to Earth. During this technology demonstration test flight, NASA's Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) payload will try to come through Earth's atmosphere at hypersonic speeds -- Mach 5, or 3,800 to 7,600 mph.