Orion heat shield chills out for inspection in Huntsville

Orion heat shield chills out for inspection in Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The heat shield from the Orion Crew Capsule that flew 3,600 miles into deep space back in December has been hanging at the Marshall Space Flight Center for a week now undergoing tests.

We got a chance to look at it then and again Tuesday to compare.

It still looks pretty "space worn." But, actually, many of the missing black chunks are the result of ground handling after it was taken from the ocean and transported.

Almost 100 pock marks on the shield, though, are intentional; samples were taken to see how the heat shield withstood the 4,000-degree heat it encountered. So far, so good.

"After the heat shield is photographed and samples taken, the core will be cut off on the lathe... and the heat shield will then be sent to Langley for a drop test," said program official Lawrence Price.

Orion's heat shield will be here for another seven weeks so once samples are taken while it is hanging upright. It will go to Marshall's special 7-axis milling machine to be completely shaved off, for even more testing.

Orion will carry crew on top of the Marshall-designed Space Launch System that is now scheduled to fly on it's first experimental mission in July of 2018.

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