Orion capsule is now officially a shiny object

Image: Orion
An artist’s conception shows NASA’s Orion capsule in flight, with a silvery, metallic-based coating bonded to the capsule’s back shell tiles. (Credit: NASA)

NASA has released new artwork that reflects the latest look for its Orion deep-space crew vehicle – and it’s highly reflective.

Orion’s shiny back shell isn’t just for show: In Thursday’s update, NASA explains that the silvery, metallic-based thermal control coating is designed to reduce heat loss when the spacecraft is pointed toward the dark chill of outer space, and limit high temperatures when it’s exposed to the sun.

“You’re trying to hit this sweet spot because when you’re looking at the sun, you don’t want to get too hot, and then when you’re not looking at the sun and instead in darkness, you don’t want to lose all the heat that the spacecraft generates,” John Kowal, NASA’s thermal protection system lead for Orion, explained in the update.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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