Russian cosmonauts were left without spacesuits
The life of the space suits of Russian cosmonauts has come to an end, but new equipment for spacewalks will not be produced until 2024, Izvestia writes, citing three sources in the rocket and space industry.
Cosmonauts use two models of spacesuits – Orlan-MKS No. 4 and Orlan-MKS No. 5. According to the interlocutors of the publication, the expiration date of No. 4 has already passed, and No. 5 is about to be completed. Both suit models are designed for 20 spacewalks.
“So far, number 4 has been used in 19 outputs and two tasks inside the depressurized Poisk module. No. 5 has 17 in the list, as well as two similar works in the depressurized module,” explained one of the sources, emphasizing that work on Poisk was already carried out in the expired suit No. 4.
At the same time, despite many spacewalks, the lifetime of the Orlan-ISS is five years. In suit No. 4, the first exit was made by Fedor Yurchikhin on August 17, 2017, so it was unusable for nine months. Model No. 5 was first taken out of the ship on August 15, 2018, leaving it with only a few months of regular service left.
“The durability period is the most important criterion for determining the protective properties of a suit. Even if you don’t go into space in them, they still lose their properties, ”explained a source at RSC Energia. However, according to him, the actual condition of the suits can be corrected by replacing individual units and components.
“Right now, Roscosmos is doing just that, fixing what they have,” the source added.
A technical failure of the space suit may lead to a temporary or permanent ban on working in it outside the ship, but even if problems arise, they will be solved by extending the service life, says a source in one of the Roscosmos organizations.
“In everything that is done for the space, there is a huge margin of safety, therefore the actual lifespan is higher than what is recommended in the documents,” the source said.
Roscosmos said it plans to produce one suit in 2024 and two more in 2025. “They will be made of domestic materials. To continue the operation of the two Orlan-ISS, spare parts have been created and are being delivered to the station, ”the press service of the state corporation reported.
Each system formally has a lifespan, but in reality it’s a “fuzzy” concept, said Nathan Eismont, a leading researcher at the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “An example is the ISS – the warranty period for the operation of the station has long expired, but it still works,” the expert noted.