PHOTO DASSAULT-BREGUET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHOTO DASSAULT-BREGUET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Computer-generated temperature map of Hermes, the European Space Agency's re-usable spaceplane, during upper atmosphere re-entry. The hottest areas, in red, are the nose & wing leading edges with temperatures up to 1800 degrees Centigrade. Thermal models allow designers to find the optimum distribution for heat resistant materials. Hermes will be 15 metre long with an 11 metre wingspan. Its launch weight of 22 tonnes will include 3 crew members & a 3 tonne payload. It will be placed in low earth orbit by an Ariane 5 rocket.
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