Blasting Off,

With a Blanket

* There isn't sunscreen strong enough for NASA's next mission.

The space agency next week will send a spaceship called Messenger to orbit Mercury, the tiny planet closest to the sun.

Messenger will be the first ship to ever orbit Mercury, in part because scientists have figured out a way for it not to be burned to a crisp in the 700-degree heat.

Messenger will have a covering to protect it -- a quilt just a quarter of an inch thick!

The special ceramic blanket will cover the spaceship when it blasts off Monday. Technician Neal Bachtell got some sewing tips from his mom when he was creating the quilt.

Messenger won't reach Mercury until March 2011 because the ship can't fly directly from Earth to Mercury for technical reasons. When it gets there, scientists hope it will collect lots of information about the planet that is about the size of our moon.

Other News

* Lance Armstrong won a record sixth Tour de France on Sunday. Armstrong said the win was "like when you're 12 years old, and you and your five buddies all get new bikes and you say, 'Let's race.' And all you want to do is clobber your buddies."

* Don't call it Episode III anymore. The new "Star Wars" movie, due out in May, will be called "Revenge of the Sith." The movie will link the earlier prequels with the original "Star Wars" movies.

Workers fit the special quilt on Messenger.