Blanket, Payload Bay, Shuttle Orbiter

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

Quilted insulation blankets like this covered parts of the space shuttle orbiter as a passive thermal control system. Made of multiple alternating layers of a thin reflective, heat-resistant plastic (Kapton) and a mesh net material (Dacron) covered by a quilted silica fabric, they helped maintain the temperature of the vehicle and its systems and components over the range of heat and cold exposure in space. Lightweight flexible blankets were easy to install and replace. When the space shuttle program ended, NASA released to museums many spare or used insulating tiles and blankets as examples of the orbiters' thermal protection materials. This sample from the payload bay area arrived in 2015.