Giant space blanket serves a communal purpose

August 6th, 2018 / By: / Out There

Photo: Alex Shtanuk

Moscow-based designer Alex Shtanuk will be contributing a piece of space travel nostalgia to the 2018 Burning Man gathering later this summer in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, while giving festival attendees a place to escape the desert heat. A giant “space blanket” will provide a casual place for festival goers to find a comfortable spot. The lightweight material will naturally change its shape on the wind-swept terrain, and as people gather under it, and then leave its protection.

The uniqueness of this project lies not in the mylar-based material, which has been around since the 1960s, but in its size: 107,000-square-feet (10,000-square meters), made from more than 3000 NASA space blankets and held together with 40 kilometers of reinforced tape.

Mylar space blankets were invented in 1964 after a scientist at the National Research Corp. discovered that a metalized film used in satellites could also keep people warm. The shiny aluminum-based sheets work by reflecting heat back to the body.

Shtanuk explains, “The silver-colored side of the blanket reflects up to 97 percent of the radiated heat, which provides a comfortable and fresh resting area under the installation during the daytime.” This project ramps up the scale of the blanket that designer Sasha Shtanuk created in 2017 for the Archsroyanie festival in Russia.

Burning Man is a network of people united in the pursuit of a more creative and connected existence in the world. The hub of the global network is the nonprofit Burning Man Project headquartered in San Francisco, Calif.

Photos: Alex Shtanuk