Next ISS crew to wear new space suits

Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and US astronaut Michael Fink, who are now streaking toward the International Space Station (ISS), will wear new Russian space suits during their two EVA-s (Extra-Vehicular Activities).

Members of the previous long-duration expedition, i.e. Michael Foale and Alexander Kaleri, checked these space suits aboard the ISS thoroughly enough, NASA's public-relations coordinator Sergei Puzanov noted.

New Orlan-M Russian-made space suits, which had been delivered to the ISS aboard a Progress space truck, were checked some time before, Puzanov added.

Members of the ninth long-duration ISS expedition would be expected to perform two space walks in July and August 2004, respectively, installing a reflector for the new ESA (European Space Agency) ATV Jules Verne space truck during their first EVA. The two men will replace the functional-cargo module's panels, which have expended their service life, during the second EVA, also activating some service systems.

Michael Foale and Alexander Kaleri were to have completed all this work. However, Kaleri's 2000-model space suit began to overheat during their only EVA (February 27, 2004) because its service life had expired. Consequently, both men spent much less time in outer space, than had initially been planned. Kaleri and Foale inspected the space suit, after returning to the ISS; it turned out that its cooling-system pipe was squeezed tight, thus causing the space suit to overheat.

Previous Orlan space-suit models were used by Mir-orbiter crews to perform EVA. This is a semi-rigid Russian space suit, boasting an integral metal body and helmet, i.e. breastplate; meanwhile its arm-and-leg coatings feature soft materials.

Instead of putting on the Orlan-M space suit, one simply "enters" it through the breastplate hatch. The space suit's rear section features a self-contained life-support system, which also serves as an air-tight hatch lid. The space suit's design makes it possible to replace various inter-changeable space-suit elements and units; its heat-supply system can also be refilled with water.

Orlan-M space suits were first tried out by the Mir orbital station's crew, i.e. mission commander Vasily Tsibliyev and flight engineer Jerry Linenger, during their April 29, 1997 EVA.

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