Space Shuttle Atlantis - Flown Thermal Blanket
Space Shuttle Atlantis - Flown Thermal Blanket
This specimen is a piece of a mission-flown insulation blanket, which was part of Atlantis' Thermal Control System. The TCS helped the ship withstand the extreme increase in temperatures during atmospheric reentry and the TCS blanket was applied to the inside of the shuttle to protect internal components and systems.
📸 The Atlantis specimen along with a very small subset of Stephanie's massive NASA collection.
Each hand-cut specimen is housed in an acrylic jar and ships in a classic, glass-topped riker display case. The specimens measure roughly 1x1cm though variations may occur. A small information card is also included, which serves as the certificate of authenticity.
Special Handling Notice: It's very important to note that this was a multi-layer insulation blanket so we've elected to provide multiple layers with each specimen. All specimens will have a layer of aluminized Kapton foil and a layer of fibrous bulk material. It's also possible that there may be fragments of the Dacron net separator material.
📸 An example thermal blanket specimen taken from interior layers. This particular specimen has intact Dacron net separators.
If you choose to open the specimen jar, take great care. The Kapton is very light and slightly brittle with age and use. It may fly away or even break into smaller pieces.
Also, all thermal blanket specimens are look quite similar so we've marked the bottom of the specimen jar. This way you can tell them apart and get them back in the correct riker display case if you happen to have both out at the same time.
Please Note: References to disposition paperwork on the specimen card are for context only. All original paperwork resides in the Mini Museum Collection. See information on the original artifact below.
Front of the Specimen Card
Back of the Specimen Card
FIRST LAUNCH: October 3, 1985 - TOTAL DISTANCE TRAVELED: 126,000,000 miles
SPACE SHUTTLE ATLANTIS
"Children who dream of being astronauts today may not fly on the space shuttle but, one day, they may walk on Mars. The future belongs to us. And just like those who came before us, we have an obligation to set an ambitious course and take an inspired nation along for the journey." ~ NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
Above: NASA image STS076-370-020, taken from the Russian Mir Space Station. Atlantis docks with Mir to transfer Shannon W. Lucid aboard, who will spend 179 days on the Russian station.
The Space Shuttle Atlantis (OV-104) was the fourth of the five space shuttles used in space operations. It was also the final shuttle to be flown. Atlantis orbited Earth 4,848 times, traveling approximately 126 million miles, and carried 156 different passengers over its time in service.
📸 Space Shuttle Atlantis TCS Blanket with typical SCRAP designation after decommissioning.
MISSION-FLOWN THERMAL BLANKET
As noted above, this specimen is a piece of a mission-flown insulation blanket, which was part of Atlantis' Thermal Control System. The TCS helped the ship withstand the extreme increase in temperatures during atmospheric reentry and the TCS blanket was applied to the inside of the shuttle to protect internal components and systems.
📸 Closeup of one of the repaired areas of the blanket. According to the paperwork, it was retired due to numerous tears.
Softgoods such as the blanket were a simple and efficient way to provide lightweight insulation to delicate items. NASA disposition paperwork received with this item indicates this particular blanket was removed after Atlantis' mission to MIR (STS-86) which flew on September 26, 1997.
Please Note: The item on offer above is a fragment of this mission-flown thermal blanket. The original scrap tags and documentation remain in the Mini Museum collection. Photos here are provided for context only.
More about the Space Shuttle Program and Atlantis (OV-104)
Above: A view of Atlantis on launchpad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (STS-132, May 13, 2010). (Source: NASA KSC-2010-3310)
NASA's Space Shuttle program delivered 133 successful missions during its three decades in operation, beginning with Columbia's inaugural mission in 1981 and concluding with Atlantis' final mission in 2011. Missions involved many vital tasks, such as maintaining the International Space Station, repairing the Hubble Space Telescope, and deploying satellites. Scientific experiments featured heavily in the rotation, using the reusable Spacelab developed by the ESA.
📸 Atlantis lifts off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as it begins its STS-135 mission to the International Space Station. STS-135 was the 33rd flight of Atlantis, the 37th shuttle mission to the space station, and the 135th and final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle Program.(NASA Image KSC-2011-5420 July 8, 2011)
The Space Shuttle Atlantis was the fourth of the five space shuttles used in space operations. It was also the final shuttle to be flown. Atlantis orbited Earth 4,848 times, traveling approximately 126 million miles, and carried 156 different passengers over its time in service. During Atlantis' tenure, the craft was instrumental in sending planetary probes to Venus and Jupiter and adding modules to the ISS.
Atlantis weighed about 150,000 pounds (68,000 kg), boasting a wingspan of about 80 feet and a length of about 120 feet. While in space, Atlantis orbited Earth 4,848 times, traveling approximately 126 million miles, carrying 156 different passengers. Today, you can find the Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Merritt Island, Florida, where it's on public display.
Above: Space Shuttle Atlantis as seen from the International Space Station prior to docking with the station. The Raffaello multipurpose logistics module can be seen inside the shuttle's cargo bay and Bahamas far below. (NASA Image ISS028-E-015813 July 10, 2011)
On July 8, 2011, Atlantis began the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program. Like so many missions before, STS-135 was a marvel of science and engineering but it was also the closure point for 30 years of incredible adventures.
As Atlantis departed from the International Space Station, Shuttle Commander Chris Ferguson had the following words:
"When a generation accomplishes a great thing, it's got a right to stand back and for just a moment admire and take pride in its work. As the ISS now enters the era of utilization we'll never forget the role the space shuttle played in its creation. Like a proud parent, we anticipate great things to follow from the men and women who build, operate and live there. From this unique vantage point we can see a great thing has been accomplished. Farewell ISS. Make us proud."
For more on the final mission, please visit NASA's own farewell "STS-135: The Final Voyage".
Above: Atlantis lands at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the final time complete with vapor trails. (Source NASA KSC-2011-5842 July 21, 2011)
Mullane, Mike. Riding rockets: the outrageous tales of a space shuttle astronaut. Simon and Schuster, 2007.
Lamoreux, James C., James D. Siekierski, and JP Nick Carter. "Space Shuttle thermal protection system inspection by 3D imaging laser radar." Laser Radar Technology and Applications IX. Vol. 5412. SPIE, 2004.
PITTS, W., and D. KOURTIDES. "Ceramic insulation/multifoil composite for thermal protection of reentry spacecraft." 24th Thermophysics Conference. 1989.
Linton, Roger C., Ann F. Whitaker, and Miria M. Finckenor. "Space environment durability of beta cloth in LDEF thermal blankets." LDEF Materials Results for Spacecraft Applications (1993).
Harris, Richard, Michael Stewart, and William Koenig. "Thermal Protection Systems Technology Transfer from Apollo and Space Shuttle to the Orion Program." 2018 AIAA SPACE and Astronautics Forum and Exposition. 2018.
Jenkins, Dennis R. Space shuttle: the history of the National Space Transportation System: the first 100 missions. DR Jenkins, 2001.
Jenkins, Dennis R. Space Shuttle: Developing an Icon: 1972-2013. Specialty Press, 2016.
Space Shuttle Columbia - Flown Nose Landing Gear Tire
Space Shuttle Endeavour - Flown Thermal Blanket