A protective shield assembly capable of being deployed from a launch vehicle is provided, and methods for assembling and deploying the protective shield assembly are also provided. The protective shield assembly includes a shroud, and a flexible sheet of material within the shroud. The flexible sheet of material is capable of substantially conforming to a contour of at least a portion of the launch vehicle to provide a protective barrier.
That which is claimed: 1. A protective shield assembly for a launch vehicle comprising: a shroud; and a flexible sheet of material attached to the shroud so as to define a pocket between the flexible sheet and the shroud, wherein at least a portion of the flexible sheet of material is attached to the shroud so as to be capable of conforming to a contour of a surface to be protected independently of the shroud. 2. The protective shield assembly according to claim 1, wherein the flexible sheet of material comprises a thermally insulating material. 3....
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