The Ultimate Guide to Space Blankets
This cutting-edge technology invented by NASA has been nothing short of a revolution when it comes to temperature regulating materials.
The space blanket, also known as the mylar blanket, survival blanket, camping blanket, foil blanket, emergency blanket, and the thermal blanket was born out of pure necessity. Like most of NASA’s inventions, the space blanket was created to solve a problem.
In 1973 NASA launched the first American-made space station called “sky-lab”.
Upon taking off the spacecraft sustained heavy damage almost putting it out of commission.
Its sun shield tore off leaving the craft dangerously exposed to heat, temperatures inside the space station rose to 54’c (129’f) giving NASA little time to find a solution before it would be too late.
In order to save the 2.2 billion dollar spacecraft, NASA had to find a way to send up a heat shield that somehow would be extremely lightweight, low bulk, and with a large temperature range.
This was not a simple task, to say the least.
The Birth of The Space Blanket
The manufacturing of mylar blankets is a highly complex process that essentially involves taking a thin layer of plastic( polyester film) and coating it with metal vapors, in this case, aluminum.
Using metal-coated plastic provided NASA with a lightweight material that was flexible and extremely durable. The thermal blanket could withstand temperatures from −260 °C to over 480 °C, this was nothing short of astounding!
NASA was able to salvage their billion-dollar investment by sending up a crew of astronauts armed with a few of these funny-looking foil blankets. The astronauts then used the space blankets to cover the craft by securing it to the exterior of the ship. Sky-lab was saved!
The space blanket was so successful that NASA continues to use this technology up to this day.
They use it for the hobble telescope and for the Mars rovers.[caption id="attachment_12955" align="alignnone" width="374"] Satellite construction. Mylar insulation being added to a satellite during its construction.[/caption]
Back to Earth
The incredible success of these space blankets was not to be confined to space alone.
Soon other branches of government began to see the many benefits this technology provides.
The U.S. Army began using it for what they call the “casualty blanket” which is a thicker material using the same technology. They also use it to line their “bivouac sacks” providing insulation for extremely cold weather.
Over the years this technology has been used across many fields and industries.
Surgeons use them to keep their patient’s body temperature stable while operating.
Emergency workers use them to warm up trauma victims.
You have probably seen pictures of refugees with emergency blankets draped over their shoulders.
After natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, these blankets pop up like mushrooms after the rain. In 2005 when Pakistan suffered a devastating earthquake, 150,000 of these thermal blankets were sent there to help the people who were left with no roof over their heads.
In sports, marathon runners use them at the end of a race because of the drastic loss of body heat that occurs when they stop running.
10 Practical Ways To Use Them
All outdoor enthusiasts swear by the emergency blanket, and it is a must-have item in every survival kit.
There are endless ways to use survival blankets, here are the top 10 ways you can use your space blanket.
1. Retaining body heat
Wrap the blanket around your whole body or any part of it to keep it warm and cozy.
2. Shading from the sun
Due to the reflective nature of this material, you will be fully protected from the sun.
All you need to do is find something to hang it on like a tree, just sit back, and relax!
3. Water container
The space blanket is waterproof so this will allow you to turn it into a water container in a time of need.
4. Emergency signaling
If you find yourself lost or stranded in a remote location, you can use the space blanket to signal for help, like using a big mirror.
5. Starting a fire
In the same way, you would use a magnifying glass to focus the sunlight to generate heat the space blanket can do the same. Another option is wrapping your food in the blanket and putting it near(not in) a fire and it will cook it just fine.
6. Providing shelter
With two sticks and some duct tape, you can set yourself up with a shelter from the wind and the rain.
7. Catching fish
Fish are attracted to shiny objects, so just cut up a blanket into strips and make yourself some fish bait. You can also use it as a clean surface to prepare your food over.
Cut up the blanket into thin strips and weave them together to create a super-strong cord.
Use the space blanket as a sling for a broken hand or use it as a tourniquet if needed.
If you need to waterproof electronics or clothing, simply wrap your space blanket around whatever you want to waterproof and use some duct tape to seal the deal.
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This invention was born from necessity (like most!) and now serves us in multiple ways. It has become essential in space gear, survival, camping, and the military. Get yours today!