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Space Shuttle Thermal Tile Demonstration

Space shuttles encounter extreme temperatures during their travels. Upon reentry, the temperature on parts of the shuttle can reach up to 2,300°F. The shuttle's survival is possible thanks to thousands thermal tiles that absorb heat into their cores while keeping the outside of the tiles cooler.

You can see these tiles in action for yourself in this video from a Kennedy Space Center tour. Watch as the tour guide places the tiles in a 2200°F furnace, super-heating them until their cores glow with molten heat. Seconds after removing the title from the furnace the guide can pick up the still glowing cubes with his bare hands, as long as it's along the edges. If you're interested in learning more about the shuttle's thermal protection systems NASA has a PDF on the subject available here.
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