Collection Item Summary:
A heat shield protected the two-man Gemini spacecraft against the enormous heat of reentry into the atmosphere beginning at a velocity of more than 27,500 kilometers (17,000 miles) per hour. Like those of other early human 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 dissipated by ablation: charring and evaporation of the shield's surface. Ablative heat shields are not reusable.
The ablative substance of the Gemini heat shield is a paste-like silicone elastomer material which hardens after being poured into a honeycomb form. In 1970 McDonnell-Douglas gave this unused heat shield to the Smithsonian on behalf of NASA.
Collection Item Long Description:
National Air and Space Museum
Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum
McDonnell Aircraft Corp.
Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through McDonnell Aircraft Corp.
Base: Resin-impregnated fiberglass; Honeycomb filling: Dow-Corning DC-325 ablative material; Outer ring: Fiberite
Overall: 7 ft. 8 in. diameter, 240 lb. (233.68cm, 108.9kg)
See more items in
National Air and Space Museum Collection
Country of Origin
United States of America
SPACECRAFT-Manned-Parts & Structural Components