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ASSET (Aerothermodynamic Elastic Structural Systems Environmental Tests)

ASSET test vehicle. Its use of metallic shingle-like panels as thermal protection permitted use of individual panels for specific experiments. (U.S. Air Force)
ASSET (Aerothermodynamic Elastic Structural Systems Environmental Tests) were the first part of the United States Air Force START (Spacecraft Technology and Advanced Reentry Test) project on lifting bodies. ASSET test flights took place in 1963-65 and used surplus Thor missiles, returned from the United Kingdom, for 4,000 m/s flights and Thor-Delta for 6,000 m/s flights. A spacecraft known as an aerothermodynamic structural test vehicle (ASV) was flown on a suborbital trajectory to a recovery zone near Ascension Island in the Atlantic to carry out heat shield experiments.

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