SCIENCE / SPACE

This Guy Holds These Super Hot Space Shuttle Tiles With His Bare Hands

NASA invented these brilliantly efficient insulation tiles to cover the Space Shuttle.


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Heat poses a massive problem to all things space related. Solving the problem of possible burning up on entry or reentry is no simple matter. But NASA did it and its results are shown in this awesome video captured during a tour of the Kennedy Space Centre.

NASA had to develop a totally new product to create the tiles that cover the Space Shuttle. The video shows this material being demonstrated in the most surprising way. Small blocks of the material are pulled out of a 2200°F (1204°Coven and placed on a cooling rack for just seconds before the guide picks up the still burning cube with his bare hands. The crazy demo shows just how fast this material can shed heat. The material in question is LI-900.

LI-900 is a low-density surface insulation created almost entirely from silica glass. The material is almost pure quartz and is 94% air by volume. The tiles work because both air and silica glass are very poor conductors of heat.

As tiles on the space shuttle, the LI-900 protected the vehicle from heat as it made its reentry to earth. In an unusual detail the tiles weren’t fixed to the shuttle with mechanical fixings, rather they were glued in place to allow for easy replacement. A feature extremely necessary as many tiles were damaged after every space shuttle mission.

This Guy Holds These Super Hot Space Shuttle Tiles With His Bare Hands

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