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NASA Hypersonic Inflatable Tech Test Set for Virginia Launch July 21

Wed, 07/18/2012 - 10:42am -- WCVE

Wallops Island, Va. -- Researchers from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia will launch and deploy a large inflatable heat shield aboard a rocket traveling at hypersonic speeds this weekend during a technology demonstration test from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

NASA has four consecutive days of launch opportunities for the agency’s Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3), starting on July 21, with the liftoff window from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. EDT each day.

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 IRVE-3 payload will try to come through Earth’s atmosphere at hypersonic speeds – Mach 5, or 3,800 to 7,600 mph.

“As we investigate new ways to bring cargo back to Earth from the International Space Station and innovative ways to safely land larger payloads safely on Mars, it’s clear we need to invest in new technologies that will enable these goals,” said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA’s Space Technology Program. “IRVE-3 is precisely the sort of cross-cutting technology that NASA’s Space Technology Program should mature to make these future NASA and commercial space endeavors possible.”

Read more from NASA here.

Discover more stories like this at Science Matters.

Video footage couretsy of NASA.