NASA, ‘Space Shuttle Flown Gold Thermal Blanket’, Chamber

This reflective, thermal blanket is of unknown origin and fabrication, but it can claim a space voyage to its name. As part of special spacecraft Thermal Protection System that helps shelter the orbiter from extreme temperatures, the blanket’s process of fabrication is long and complex, and includes cutting of ceramic fabric, layering, sowing, lubricating, baking at high temperatures, and waterproofing.

Contrary to common conception, it serves to protect from intense heat rather than cold. The blanket measures 18.5 by 9.5 inches and bears two red "SCRAP"stamps and a sticker identifying it as V070-366753-001-NC, indicating that it was onboard space voyages but was later scrapped and replaced.

Image rights: Guang Xu

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