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Russia launches work to design new outfit for spacewalks

This solution will help reduce the torso size and allow developing a space suit for planetary activity, including on the Moon

MOSCOW, July 17. /TASS/. Zvezda Research and Production Association has started designing a new-generation spacesuit for work in outer space, Zvezda CEO and Chief Designer Sergei Pozdnyakov told TASS on Monday.

"It can be said that this work has started," he said.

Zvezda is considering several promising areas to further upgrade cosmonauts’ outfits for spacewalks. The company plans to increase the size of "entry" into the spacesuit to heed cosmonauts’ wishes.

Zvezda is also considering replacing the analogue switches of the space suit control system on the chest control panel with an onboard computer while necessary operations will be selected by a panel on the monitor’s screen.

It has also been proposed to downsize the spacesuit’s rigid torso.

"This solution will help reduce the torso size and allow developing a spacesuit for planetary activity, including the Moon. The point is that the current sizes of the spacesuit torso do not allow humans to bend and straighten. The spacesuit torso should be shortened to the level of the ribs for work on planets," Pozdnyakov said.

The spacesuit’s backpack is expected to be rearranged to make it more serviceable. The developers also plan to finalize the idea of an automatic rescue system built into the spacesuit to bring a cosmonaut departing for a dangerous distance back to the spacecraft or the space station.

This year, Russia has started to deliver Orlan-MKS latest-generation space suits to the International Space Station. They are characterized by more resistant polyurethane casing and an inbuilt air conditioner.

A flight spacesuit for the Russian spacecraft Federatsiya will be put on much easier and more conveniently than its predecessor for the Soyuz space ship, Pozdnyakov said.

"It incorporates a principally different mode of putting on a spacesuit. If now a cosmonaut puts it over his head, binds up the ‘appendage’ and fixes the pressure sealing zippers, then the new spacesuit will have a thermo-zipper running actually through the upper half of the body instead of this complex scheme. All that a cosmonaut will have to do is to put on thermal underwear, a headset, match the connectors and zip up, after which he is ready for a flight," he said.

The company has already made a prototype of this spacesuit under the working name of Sokol-M. The spacesuits for the Soyuz spacecraft used at present are called Sokol-KV2.