THE GEMINI HEAT SHIELD
A heat shield protected the Gemini spacecraft against the enormous heat generated by reentry into the atmosphere at more than 27,500 kilometers (17,000 miles) per hour. Like those of other early American and Soviet manned spacecraft, Gemini's heat shield derived from ballistic-missile warhead technology. The dish-shaped shield created a shock wave in the atmosphere that held off most of the heat. The rest was dissipated by ablation--charring and evaporation--of the heat shield's surface. Ablative shields were not reusable.
A sample of the Gemini heat shield before use. Note the fiberglass honeycomb that provided structural strength to the epoxy-like silicone elastismer material.
A heat shield sample, possibly from Gemini 7, after reentry. Note the charring.
Gemini-Titan II Launch Vehicle
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