Let’s continue our space suit series where we left off. I would like to express that we do not prepare spacesuit articles only for the purpose of producing documents. The articles will also shed light on the designs of our own work, which can be used in promotional/educational activities at the Earth-based Mars Research Stations or campus within the scope of the “Mars on Earth Project”.
Knowing how spacesuit systems work isn’t the only thing that matters. The main issue that you should consider while reading this article is to be aware of how perfect our Earth and living environment is.
As you read, you will see that; The initial state of all these complex electronic systems and designs is like our umbilical cord between the mother and the baby in the womb. Just as we were fed with the help of a cord in a liquid and provided our oxygen need, it was the same way in the first studies. Space has never been and never will be a friend to us. We are struggling for existence in an environment where we do not belong physically and spiritually. In order to live in a sense, we are simulating our living house, as it were, before the beginning of our life.
I think it would be useful to make two points here. When it comes to space suit design, the most popular ones that come to mind lately are the clothes of the astronaut in the movie The Martian and the space suits used by the “Space-X” company. However, it is useful to evaluate the two clothing designs separately. For example, astronauts going to Mars will never be able to use the clothes in that movie.
Your color selection pattern is already not suitable. I think using an astronaut suit of the same color on the planet Mars, which has a rusty and orange soil structure, would be the last choice, but it would be a good choice for camouflage.
Fortunately, for now, we haven’t encountered those so-called green-eared ones (if there were, we would have said they had chosen a good and contrasting color) that would require us to camouflage and are loved by the sci-fi audience.
Astronaut Suit from The Martian Movie
In summary, the design in the movie “The Martian” is completely movie-oriented and designed to show the character’s face. Otherwise, we would have to watch a character whose face we never saw, except when he took off his helmet for 1.5 hours. However, it should be noted that the design of clothing is not completely sloppy. The rigid structure (torso) that protects the chest, the fastening straps on the garment against pressure and the back unit are likened to existing structures. It didn’t happen that the garment didn’t have compressed air in its interior and didn’t look chubby, but it’s still manageable.
The planet Mars, which is our area of interest; Because it has a weak atmosphere, low pressure, and the ability of this atmosphere to protect from harmful radiation, astronaut suits will be an essential element in every space mission. Namely; An astronaut who spent 6 months on Mars would have received about 15 times the dose that personnel working in a nuclear reactor on Earth take in 1 year. This is a reason in itself for Mars to get cancer, let alone other effects. For these and similar reasons, new designs specific to Mars are needed.
Which Garment Is Used In Which Environment?
Leaving the movies aside for now, we will continue the rest of the article by following the order outward from the International Space Station. We will first examine the in-cabin (IVA) suits, then continue by examining the outer space (EVA) suit’s exposure to the space environment and then outer space suits.
Cabin Duty Clothing Types
The suits were designed to protect astronauts against sudden changes in cabin pressure during space travel up to takeoff and docking, rather than the outer space environment, and on return to Earth. Astronauts also wore orange suits during the launch and landing of space shuttles. These suits were also designed to be worn only inside a spaceship. When going on spacewalks outside of the space shuttle, they still had to wear heavy, white space suits.
The suit designs for the cabin alone lack the support of life support units, such as oxygen, as the suits used by regular astronauts, called the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) carried on the back.
Here, “why not use one type of clothing?” question may arise. Differences between astronauts’ in-cabin missions and out-of-cabin (space) missions are a result of this. Command control, etc. in the spacecraft. While there is a need to be more comfortable and flexible for reasons, they have to use both sheltered and relatively difficult to use clothes in the space environment.
IVA Clothing is More Comfortable Than EVA Clothing
American cabin clothes (ACES) provide a more comfortable use, flexibility and comfort compared to non-cabin duty clothes. This allows take-off, landing, maneuver, command and control actions to be performed more easily, and it allows engineers and other flight attendants to work with less restrictions in the same way. While clothing provides partial protection against fire, they play a supportive role in sudden pressure changes and oxygen support.
In the picture above, the oxygen inlet and carbon dioxide outlet valves are visible on both sides of the astronauts’ abdomen. The zippers are roped and can be pulled by holding the rope without bending with a little effort. A similar structure is used in diving suits so that the diver can pull the back zipper alone.
SpaceX Cabin Suit
The suit used by the Space-X astronauts in the picture is an in-cabin (IVA) suit and is not designed for outer space. This clothing design, which emerged after 3-4 years of work, is a personalized design for astronauts. It has integrated valves, movable visor and communication system in the helmet and lock mechanisms.
Since the screens inside the spacecraft are designed to be touch-sensitive, the astronauts’ gloves are designed accordingly. The design was first tested and used on the dummy at the wheel of the Tesla model vehicle, which SpaceX sent into space with a Falcon Heavy rocket in 2018, and then on the dummy named “Ripley” in test flights without crew in 2019.
Russian Space Agency Cabin Duty Suit
The garment, which began to be developed in 1973, was called “Sokol”, which means “falcon” in Russian. It is a garment to be used inside the cabin and needs external support for life support. The suit consists of an inner pressure layer of rubber-coated polycaprolactam (Nylon-6) and an outer layer of canvas fabric. Many different models have been created on the garment over time, and the latest model is being tried as “Sokol-M”.
The picture shows astronauts of different nationalities wearing the Sokol spacesuit. Hoses on the right side of the suit are air conditioning, pressure and air support, and on the left are electrical and data connection cables. The gasketed head part is hinged. The head part includes a support section to ensure submersion and keep the head up. The left wrist of the garment contains a pressure gauge and the right wrist contains a small mirror. The valves on the suit are connected to the hoses that provide air and oxygen support, and the pressure is automatically regulated when necessary according to the in-cab pressure. The garment weighs about 10 Kg. The boots shown in the picture are removed and carried before entering the cabin, this is to prevent possible particles that can be carried under the boots to the cabin.
Chinese Space Agency , Cabin Mission Suit
Since it is made in China, the most economical spacesuit must be the Chinese, right? Because they are short, less fabric should be used. Of course not, and these clothes are also expensive, if not as much as the others. The dress is almost identical to the Russian-made cabin “Sokol” dress, with some minor differences.
The bellows system is used to provide flexibility in the knee and arm joints of the clothes, and it is connected to the mother ship with a hose for respiratory support in the same way. There is a locking glove system and pressure protective straps on the wrists.
In the meantime, let’s clear up a little detail, by the way. You must have seen a bag held by the female Taykonaut on the left in the same picture, among other astronauts. This bag is usually carried before boarding the spacecraft.
You’ll remember from what you’ve read so far, it takes a while to put on the spacesuits. Of course, after wearing it, the astronaut has to endure the difficulties of this suit until he gets on the spacecraft in hot weather; The biggest problem is the temperature. This bag contains a portable cooling air supply torch. After the astronaut enters the cabin, he disconnects the hose connection from the bag and connects it to the spacecraft support systems.
Indian Space Agency , Cabin Duty Suits
India is also preparing for a manned space mission they call Gaganyaan. The journey, which is expected to take place in 2022, will be carried out with the GSLV Mk III rocket, and this 3-stage heavy-lift rocket will take the astronauts to a 400 Km mission orbit in 16 minutes. 3 “Vyomanauts” (2 men, 1 woman) will join the mission and will return to Earth in a capsule after performing various experiments in space. The landing is planned for the Arabian Sea.
Vyomanauts will be selected from Indian Air Force pilots and scientists from ISRO. For this mission, ISRO has developed two suits for escape and space mission. In this suit development, the French Space Agency (CNES) will share its expertise with ISRO on topics such as astronaut health monitoring, life support, space debris and radiation protection, personal hygiene and space medicine. . It also cooperates with Russia on the education of Vyomanauts.
Developed over 2 years at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), the suits are equipped like their counterparts and are orange in color and the suit itself has a tube that can provide up to 60 minutes of oxygen support.
India will not use any animals for human life support systems testing, but aims to use robots that look like humans, with more than 99.8% reliability for the crew escape system.
Normal Attire at ISS
So are there no comfortable clothing variants for astronauts? Of course there is. astronauts; It is possible to wear a comfortable jumpsuit or a short-sleeved T-shirt and shorts, as on Anousheh Ansari, the first Muslim female space tourist from Iran who immigrated to the United States for a long time, seen in the above picture, during what we can call daily in-cabin working and resting times. Appropriate and comfortable clothes are also used during sports times.