In its return to Earth on Saturday, space shuttle Discovery will test a new heat-resistant tile that engineers hope will one day be used on the next-generation Orion spacecraft. Because of its shape, Orion will experience re-entry temperatures about 500 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than those endured by the space shuttle. "We have returned to using the space shuttle as a research vehicle," says the shuttle's program manager. "We're trying to learn more and more about spaceflight and hypersonic re-entry."
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