Monday, August 28, 2006
Heatshield from GT-2 MOL test flight
This is the top half of the heatshield from the Gemini 2 spacecraft used in the MOL test. You can see where the circular part of the heatshield was cut out and where the hatch would have been on the spacecraft, as well as the ablative pattern in the heatshield. The Gemini and Apollo spacecraft both used an off-center center of gravity which allowed the spacecraft to generate some lift during re-entry so that they could modify their path through the atmosphere by rolling the spacecraft, much as the Space Shuttle does with its wings as it rolls left and right during its re-entry. One could steer the spacecraft towards a splashdown point as well as change the g-loads on the crew during the re-entry. You can see here that the ablative pattern radiates from the bottom half of the heatshield. This image was taken with the kit lens on my 20D at 18mm focal length with an exposure of 1/100 seconds at f/3.5, ISO 1600.