Test of ablation heatshield. The nose-cone capsule for Big Joe had no retrorocket package. The inner structure held only a half-sized instrumented pressure vessel instead of a pressurized cabin contoured to the outer configuration. Built in two segments, the lower half by Lewis and the upper by Langley, the main body of the spacecraft replica was fabricated with thin sheets of corrugated Inconel alloy in monocoque construction. This model of the Mercury capsule had more than one hundred thermocouples around the capsule skin to register temperatures inside and under the heatshield, sides and afterbody. (Reference NASA SP-4201 p. 201)
Was formerly housed at the NASM Garber Restoration Facility (images below).
Location: National Air and Space Museum Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Date: November 2003
Photo by: collectSpace