Press Release

Setting the pace for future space travel – NASA’s Starship 2040 takes pole position at Daytona Speedway Feb. 9-10

By SpaceRef Editor
February 7, 2002
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The fabled Daytona International Speedway is accustomed to hosting
cutting-edge vehicles. But when NASA’s Starship 2040 arrives at the
Daytona, Fla., raceway Feb. 9, it’s sure to set a new pace — and sure to
send visitors’ imaginations rocketing straight into orbit.

The traveling exhibit — managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight
Center in Huntsville, Ala. — is touring the nation to share NASA’s vision
of what commercial spaceflight might be like 40 years from now. Visitors
board the “spaceship” and walk through its control, passenger and
engineering compartments. Audio effects — engine noises, computer and crew
voices — add to the realism of the experience.

Starship 2040 will visit the Daytona Speedway during the NASCAR
Winston Cup Series Feb. 9-10, as excitement mounts for the annual Daytona
500 race later in February. The exhibit — housed in a 48-foot tractor and
trailer rig — will be on display in the fan walk area, and will be open to
the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free. Starship 2040 is
handicapped accessible.

Members of the Marshall Center’s Space Transportation Directorate
and Technology Transfer Office will be on hand at the exhibit, giving talks
at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on NASA’s future space transportation
goals as well as automotive and racing-related applications of technologies
developed by and for the space program.

Norm Brown, manager of program planning and development for the
Space Transportation Directorate, will deliver a public presentation,
“Building the Highway to Space,” Feb. 9 at the Daytona Beach Museum of Arts
and Sciences, 1040 Museum Blvd. Brown’s talk will begin at 2 p.m. Everyone
is welcome to attend.


Such a joint pursuit of technological advances is no stranger to
NASCAR. In recent years, insulation technology developed for the Space
Shuttle program has been tested at the Daytona International Speedway to
help cut temperature inside racecar cockpits — which can rise to a
blistering 160 degrees Fahrenheit despite forced-air systems and other
traditional measures.

Veteran drivers Bobby Allison and Roger Penske worked with NASA’s
Kennedy Space Center in the mid-1990s on a test solution. In 1996, NASCAR
driver Rusty Wallace took the research onto the track at Daytona, measuring
a temperature reduction between 30 and 50 degrees inside his Ford
Thunderbird racer — thanks to thermal blanket insulation based on the Space
Shuttle’s patented Thermal Protection System (TPS).

That joint study and a subsequent NASA Space Act Agreement with
thermal insulation manufacturer BSR-TPS Products, Inc. of Mooresville, N.C.,
led to the first-ever commercial use of the Shuttle’s thermal insulation
system. As a result, NASCAR drivers today enjoy greater safety and comfort
as they push the edge of the envelope.

More about Starship 2040

While inside the vehicle, visitors gain insight into technologies
now being investigated by NASA and its partner organizations to increase the
safety and reliability of space transportation systems while dramatically
lowering costs. Such advances are key to making commercial space travel
safe and affordable enough for routine civilian flights as early as a few
decades from now.

All the innovations suggested aboard the exhibit — automated
vehicle health monitoring systems, high-energy propulsion drive,
navigational aids and emergency and safety systems — are based on concepts
and technologies now being studied at NASA Centers and academic and industry
partner institutions around the nation.

Starship 2040 has been on the road since February 2001, touring high
schools, universities and a variety of public events in Alabama,
Mississippi, Tennessee, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina,
Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, Missouri and California. Future state tours
and appearances are in the works throughout 2002 and beyond.

For more information about the Starship 2040 project and a complete

listing of upcoming tour dates, visit:

NASA is the nation’s premier agency for development of Space
Transportation systems, including future-generation reusable launch
vehicles. Such systems — the keys to a real Starship 2040 — require
revolutionary advances in critical aerospace technologies, from thermal,
magnetic, chemical and propellantless propulsion systems to new energy
sources such as space solar power or antimatter propulsion. These and other
advances are now being studied, developed and tested at NASA field centers
and partner institutions all over the nation.

NASA and its partners also seek innovative materials and processes
technologies, investigating ways to develop safer, stronger and more durable
engines, vehicles, structures and components to handle the immense power of
these futuristic propulsion systems.

The Marshall Center leads all these efforts, aimed at enabling
dramatic improvements in the safety, cost and reliability of future space
transportation systems. For more information about NASA Space
Transportation Systems, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.