February 23, 1965

1965: The 1,175-pound reentry glider, last in a series of six, launched from Cape Kennedy, FL., by a Thor-Delta booster into a 13,300-mile suborbital flight. ASSET, or Aerothermodynamic Elastic Structural Systems Environmental Tests was an experimental US space project involving the testing of an uncrewed sub-scale reentry vehicle.
Begun in 1960, ASSET was originally designed to verify the superalloy heat shield of the X-20 Dyna-Soar (artist’s conception below) prior to full-scale crewed flights. The vehicle’s biconic shape and low delta wing were intended to represent Dyna-Soar’s forward nose section, where the aerodynamic heating would be the most intense; more than an estimated 4000 °F at the nose cap. Following the X-20 program’s cancellation in December 1963, completed ASSET vehicles were used in reentry heating and structural investigations with hopes that data gathered would be useful for the development of future space vehicles, such as the Space Shuttle.