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Gen-next spacesuits make spacewalks safer for ISS astronauts

Press Trust of India  |  Moscow 

A gen-next lightweight spacesuit equipped with climate control and unique safety systems for astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) has been developed by a Russian company.

The unique new spacesuits for Russian cosmonauts on ISS use materials that substantially extend the useful life of spacesuits.

The spacesuits will ensure that astronauts, even when affected by such aggressive environment as open space, feel absolutely comfortable and safe.

The spacesuits have been fully tested and are being sent to the ISS this year.

The new spacesuits, developed by Zvezda NPP, part of Technodinamika of Rostec State Corporation, will allow astronauts to carry out minor repairs during spacewalks.

In case of depressurisation due to damage or otherwise the spacesuit has a system that can maintain the required pressure within a spacesuit for as long as 30-50 minutes, which is sufficient for safe return to the space station.

"New Technodinamika spacesuits greatly outperform their world analogues in many respects," said Maxim Kuzyuk, the CEO of Technodinamika.

"Thus, in case of damage American ISS EVA suit spacesuits can maintain pressure for just 30 minutes, but Orlan ISS - for up to 50 minutes, which gives spacemen some extra time to return to the station," said Kuzyuk.

"In addition to that, our development is 35 kg lighter.

"Another fundamental distinction from the US version is that spacemen can 'step' into Orlan ISS rather than put it on. It means that a Russian astronaut can prepare for the exit into space without assistance of their colleagues," Kuzyuk said.

The climate control system introduced in the new Russian spacesuits provides thermal control based on the load level, amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide, a company spokesperson told PTI.

The spacesuit was displayed at the annual Innoprom international industrial exhibition held in Ekaterinburg, Russia.

It is the outcome of several years of research and development by the engineering team at Zvezda NPP.

Due to a rubber cover replaced with a polyurethane one, engineers have managed to extend the useful life of spacesuits from four to five years and the number of times it can be used for outer space works will increase from 15 to 20.

The Orlan suits currently used by cosmonauts aboard the ISS are the fourth-generation Orlan-MK suits, but they are nearing the end of their lifespan. They will be replaced with the newer upgraded fifth-generation models.

First Published: Mon, August 03 2015. 15:42 IST