Atmospheric re-entry vehicles rely on either ablation shields or insulating tiles to stop them being incinerated by contact with the shockwave they generate during descent.
Today’s invention is to make a re-entry vehicle in the form of a vacuum flask. This could consist of one capsule nested within another and secured in place using wedges of thermal tile material.
Before re-entry, a valve would open, expelling the air in the gap to space and then lock closed, forming a vacuum in the layer between inner and outer shells.
Although probably heavier than the conventional approaches, this would be comparatively low-tech, robust during ascent and would allow easier reuse of the vehicle.
Such a device might provide a way, in smaller, pod format, to allow expensive equipment, valuable memory devices or samples to be dropped back to earth more reliably.