A tile used to protect a spacecraft from frictional heat during re-entry. A space shuttle's thermal protection system (TPS) has a layer of more than 30 000 thermal tiles fitted by hand and glued to its aluminium underbelly to absorb and dissipate the heat. The silica-fibre tiles are coated with silica glass. Reinforced carbon–carbon tiles are placed on the leading edges of the wings, where they must withstand re-entry temperatures of up to 1 378°C.
Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.