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Image description: Though it may resemble a giant mechanical mushroom, the device these scientists are working on is an inflatable heat shield to slow and protect spacecraft as they blaze through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. When deflated, the 10-foot shield can be packed into a 22-inch diameter rocket.
NASA will test the heat shield with a launch early in the morning on Saturday, July 21. Watch it live.
Photo by NASA.

Image description: Though it may resemble a giant mechanical mushroom, the device these scientists are working on is an inflatable heat shield to slow and protect spacecraft as they blaze through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. When deflated, the 10-foot shield can be packed into a 22-inch diameter rocket.

NASA will test the heat shield with a launch early in the morning on Saturday, July 21. Watch it live.

Photo by NASA.