The suit for the landing on the Moon and Europe - as it should be? An interview with the lead designer of Final Frontier Design

leading designer FFD Nikolai Moiseyev (left) and President Ted Sausern (right) demonstrate the new design suit

Hello, Geektimes. Today once again we have a visit, Nikolai Moiseyev - the leading designer and Final Frontier Design Company Chief Engineer (FFD), based in Brooklyn, New York. The main direction of the company - the creation of space suits and individual elements to them (eg, gloves). Nicholas working in this field for more than 20 years, and today it has agreed to talk about his current work and how is the situation with the development of space suits in other companies.

In the past, Nicholas has talked about his company, as he analyzed the suit of the "Martian", which traveled to Mars hero Matt Damon. Today we learn how can suit for landing on planets and satellites, what a perfect suit and how difficult it can be a process of creating a single glove for a "space suit".

Nicholas, hello! Tell me please, what project or projects are you working on now? Now we are closing the contract for the production of gloves for NASA. This week comes to us a group of NASA, and the company will carry out testing of new gloves. To do this, we have certified all our equipment, having a great number of hours of paperwork. The fact that the test is performed on a person. Supply of gloves will begin in July, and after that the contract is closed. We will continuing to work - do not know yet, but we hope to cooperate with NASA on.

We also have several smaller projects, such as the development of gloves for electricians. Few can imagine, except professionals, what would be the consequences of the effects on the 5000 Volt. A electrician must take these live wires in his hands, to work with them. I can say straight out that these gloves looks not too beautiful. In general, someone uninformed might say that this work is not too important. But this contract is quite beneficial for us, the company needs to work and earn. In addition, in the course of this work, we apply new ideas in terms of ergonomics. We have new ideas in order to increase the tactility and hand protection.

We work on a number of training projects, including the fitting of our spacesuits (program The Space Suit Experience). Specialized US universities train their students to fly in space, teach them the rules of work in spacesuits and other tricks. And such educational projects also bring in money and popularity of the company. For example, in October, there was a group of 30 people who mete spacesuits and "flew" into space simulators. In April - 15 people. But more talk about it later.

Soon coming test flights in a parabola to create weightless conditions [meaning a special plane NASA C-9 - approx. EDIT]. In July, August and October are planned training and education of students. At the beginning of next year will be flying under contract with NASA with our new spacesuit, also a parabola, in conditions of weightlessness, just 75 parabolas. Tests will be carried out according to the approved methodology. One of the most important stages of our company for the certification of our suit for spaceflight.
75 parabolas is actually 75 flights? Or a few parabolas? Carried out during one flight

On the test three days set aside. During one flight day 25 parabolas will be held. The testing process is sometimes there are interesting moments. For example, the last time in October, when we conducted the test, some of the participants of the experiment was simply bad. Thus, the selection is carried out. From weightlessness sensation experienced some excitement, others very bad feeling.
The idea is that the selection of astronauts may be carried out at an early stage in such conditions. When you are able to roll, then go up, then you fall down, you can feel any excitement or you swayed and becomes ill, there is pallor.

next issue of modern-looking suits the new type. Developments in fact, not so much, and most of them are quite old. Astronauts fly only slightly improved models of suits. Tell me, is there a fundamentally new model suits created from scratch? Yes, traditionally NPP "Zvezda" in Russian, under the auspices of the Russian Space Agency, produces suits for the spacewalk. Every 5-10 years spacesuit "Orlan" is updated, developers regularly release updated models.

NASA is also working on the improvement of such suits. For example, the new suit has been collected at the end of last year, I mean Z2 model. This is the model with the input on the back hatch. However, we can not say that this suit so different from the previous ones. Prototypes were created much earlier. For example, in the Soviet Union such a suit was created in the early 60s. But if NASA is implementing the project, it will be the first flight for NASA spacesuit with rear entrance / exit at the rear. It will be improved joints, other elements. In general, it will be harder than the previous model EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit). This so-called space suit Space Shuttle. I, as a professional, the increased weight of the suit is certainly not like it, given that the court of the 21st century. I will also say that this is my personal opinion and not the opinion of my company.

Regarding the latest SUPERID ... Such news periodically appear in the press that allegedly some companies promise to create superinnovatsionny suit. Or, for example, I am a student from Australia, wrote: "The suits are very expensive. I believe I can make a suit for $ 150. " But we do not mind. Do, who's stopping you? Make at least that's one sleeve, with two plugs, then tested under pressure. Then, experiments were performed by pressuring [test for high blood pressure - approx. Ed]. Then you need to run an experiment on the explosion, when the glove or sleeve should be inflated to such an extent that it exploded. In carrying out such tests should be a stand that can protect test. This is required by safety regulations. So, you have to have a stand that creates a pressure source, a compressor, which is worth $ 1,000 and thus you must know at what pressure hose burst.

If the operating pressure of, say, 0 and 4 atmospheres, the crimping should be done at 0, 6 atmosphere. Explode sleeve must not less than 1, 5 atmosphere. I call approximate figures. It is clear that all of this costs money - test materials, work. Enthusiasts simply do not understand how many intermediate points between the idea and its realization, if we talk about outer space. Since I have many years already 30, then periodically I see in this thread as there are similar news.

Are we working on innovations? Yes, we work, but we will not announce it ahead of time. For example, making the sleeve of the new suit, we make one layout. Did not like the layout ... The second - already better, but still has flaws. A new arm, until he brought to the desktop version, we will not tell anyone. But this sleeve may well become the progenitor of a new generation of space suits. We start small, and then developed further. But nothing before the time in the press does not leak.
I want to note that this work takes time and it is not paid. If we want to get a contract for the production of a new spacesuit, should we submit to NASA or anyone else prototype. Only under the idea here do not give money, to be exact - have little chance to receive such a contract. If you come and say that you have a great idea, it is likely that its development you will not get the money. And if you come and tell me that you have a working prototype, then the chances are much higher.

What do you think should be the perfect suit? Yes, an interesting question ... Generally speaking, the perfect suit is to be as light as possible. Current models are very heavy and weighs more than 120 kilograms. And this suit for one person. If suddenly we fly to the moon, Mars and put on this suit, will come to the surface of the planet, we can not rise and fall, even despite the fact that there is, on the Moon and Mars, the reduced gravity. Future planetary spacesuit must be at least two times better. It is necessary to make the suit with a radically new design and design.

And it was the same situation when the astronaut left on the lunar surface, lying? He lay down on purpose. He was helped to get up and he got? He himself, but with the tenth attempt. He took advantage of the fact that the small moon gravity, but he could not get up normally on his knees, then go down and stand up. In this expedition Apollo spacesuit could not do. But the astronaut found out. He was in the bench press abruptly pushed his hands from the surface and jumping to his feet. By the way, the suit Apollo expedition weighed 60 kilograms, plus 6 times less than the weight of a person and a spacesuit on the moon. Note that the leg joints in this suit were very bad. Bend the knee and hip to 90 degrees and more, here's how we can, he could not. But some people can even move your knee to the chin. The standard suit that could be done, the most you could bend the leg at the hip to 30 degrees. I note that in the latest suit, developed by our company, bend the leg at the hip, you can, and it is more than 90 degrees.

Wow progress! What do you think, how real, retaining the functionality, reduce weight of the suit twice? If yes, how long this development can take and what difficulties associated? Firstly, it is real. Secondly, we need new material. Thirdly, you need financing, because the idea not cheap. Create a space suit on a new principle is more complicated than the suit to improve the old type. For example, back in Moscow, when I was engaged in gloves, to me at work to say: "Take, please, the simple glove. What do you do every time the glove more and more difficult? ". And I said, "Here's a look at your hand, which is a complex system! As there are many different sustavchikov and "sharnirchikov" ... This is a very complicated thing, and gloves under high pressure also should be close in functionality to our hand. »

Now we continue to work towards improving the gloves. For example, to the glove, which we did for NASA's, parts 6 times more than the previous model. This is a fundamentally new level.

And what should be a suit for release on Pluto, for example? And to enter the surface of Europa, Jupiter's moon? After all, in this NASA satellite ekspeditsiyu.Dlya plans to start designing a spacesuit on Pluto, Mars or any other planet, it is necessary to know the conditions of use. Until about Pluto, we know very little, despite the successes of astronautics. Start developing the suit and any technically complex system begins with the requirements. What temperature, how much pressure, what force of gravity, a composition of the planet's atmosphere - all you need to know. While all this is about, we know about Pluto, unspecified data.

These plans are very far away, so humanly difficult to discuss the project, when there has not yet sat down machines. The peculiarity of the suit for Europe, satellites of Jupiter, is that it should provide radiation protection, as Europe flies in the radiation belt of Jupiter. Even Earth has a radiation belt, and until the problem is easily solved - the astronauts on the ISS fly below the radiation belts. To go to the moon, you need as quickly as possible to pass them without delay. And imagine, we have to fly on a small planetoid, which is a powerful radiation belt. Europe in this regard, a complex object to visit.

It is much easier to organize a manned mission to Ganymede, which has a liquid ocean, or Callisto, which also has a liquid ocean. Unfortunately, for some reason, it did not say, all dreaming of Europe. But Callisto is far away from Jupiter, in a quiet area where there are no exorbitant levels of radiation.

At the moment, neither the Soviet nor Russian nor American space suits do not provide radiation protection enough for the flight to Europe. One may say that they are practically not protect against radiation, especially from heavy particles.

it even really talk about radiation protection in relation to the suit? In fact, we have a prototype.

This is a commercial secret, or can barely tell us about it? First, make a mock radiation protection - is one thing, but to test - is quite another. We tested with one level of radiation, spent about $ 5,000 in a certified laboratory for the sake of testing protocols. To reach the test on the accelerator, where there is a large heavy particles c energies need $ 150,000 dollars. For us, this amount is large.

The website of your company is, «The Space Suit Experience» section, showing the suits and bear the price of $ 795.00. It suits many face? No, these suits are not for sale. They can be put on, anyone can order a "fitting", during which you can try to dress and suit. This is a unique service in the sense that the lives of several hundred million people in the United States. The fact is that if you have money and you want to try on the suit, then anywhere else in the United States that could be done. However, this possibility is in Russia. That is the American had to go to Star City, near Moscow, to buy expensive tickets, rent hotel. All this will result in about $ 5,000, or even more, depending on the program. And you can suit "Sokol" try to "Soyuz". The suit that white rescue. You can try on and "Orlan" in the Russian center. Previously it had the opportunity to train in suits under the water, but now the swimming pool, where to train, closed for reconstruction, can be opened this year.

We are still the first and only company that provides all interested persons with a certain level of physical fitness and try to try on the suit in the US, the cost of this service is very reasonable.

This service is quite popular. There was, for example, we, the civilian pilot, flying on Boeing. He was already 60, but he dreams of space, though, and realized that he could not fly. And health is already present. But he went and was delighted by it. He was able to touch their dreams, to the cosmos. The museum to go and see the spaceship - is one thing. And here you put on the suit and how to ship the head to sit you try to land on the moon, on Mars using the simulator. The pilot, of which I speak, passed all the tests and sit in any conditions in our simulator.

There is another category of people. It's modern kids who deal with computer games. Not only gamers, no. It's about developers - they develop games and periodicals come to us. They are trying to get a new experience in the suit, to understand what the suit, then to create some new game.

Another category is people who want to make a gift to someone on his birthday. The lucky lead here with my eyes closed, and then he announced a surprise. The man opens his eyes, and then - BAM! This suit, you can try on and be photographed.

And this suit, you can go out in space or on the moon walk? Perhaps in the case of certain improvements. Generally speaking, the suits are divided into two types: internal ship, and EVA. Internal ship, for example, the "Falcon", this light suits. The same "Falcon" weighs ten kilograms. EVA "Orlan" weighs 120 kg. What is the difference? One reason is that the life-support system for the "Falcon", roughly speaking, belongs to the ship, it is - part of the ship. And the suit for extra-vehicular activity (EVA) autonomous security system, it is designed for 9 hours, the limit is 10 hours. Of course, no one is working there to the limit. Typically, there are 6, 5 hours and no more, because no one has repealed the physiological needs. The suit of this type - a spacecraft on a single person. The second difference between the two suits, is that they have different types of protection. In EVA spacesuit outside screen-vacuum thermal insulation which protects from extreme temperatures, from cold and heat flows. Also EVA spacesuits have solar filters that protect against bright sunlight. Without it, the astronauts simply blinded.

There is a third type of suits, we can say universal. This is when you fly up in the same suit, flying to the moon descends on its surface, it walk on the moon and return to earth. Like any universal thing, this suit is not very good. The fact is that to work in such a ship the suit is too heavy, plus his lack of mobility. А ты должен выходить на поверхность планеты и работать. Поэтому этот скафандр имеет дополнительные шарниры, которые не нужны для внутрикорабельного скафандра. Обычно речь идет о подшипниках с уплотнениями, которых может быть 10 или 20 штук в скафандре ВКД. Таких подшипников всего одна пара в скафандре типа «Сокол».

А универсальные скафандры, о которых вы говорите, они существуют? И если да, то что это за модель?Во-первых, это скафандр Леонова [скафандр «Беркут», — прим. ред.]. В нем Леонов вышел в открытый космос. Беляев ждал его, полностью экипированный, чтобы подстраховать если что. В этих же скафандрах космонавты и вернулись. Второй скафандр такого типа – это скафандр программы Apollo. Есть и еще идеи по поводу универсальных скафандров. Так, когда NASA рассматривало астероидную миссию, команда проекта поняла, что нужно брать с собой два типа скафандров на несколько месяцев полета. Взлетать в одних, выходить на поверхность астероида для сбора образцов — в другом, тяжелом скафандре на 1-2 часа. И они подумали, что можно взлететь в первом и выходить в первом, просто надеть на него верхнюю одежду, как говорят, с теплоизоляцией. На шлем смонтировать солнечный светофильтр, надеть теплозащитные перчатки, ботинки специальные, ранец на спину, ремнями его закрепить. Закрепить и карабины с фалами, чтобы не потеряться – их нет на легком скафандре.

Оказалось, что нет, эта идея не работает. Команда NASA, потратив большие деньги, поняла, что в легком скафандре, даже усовершенствованном, с включением дополнительных подшипников в рукава и добавлением прочих элементов, невозможно выполнить эту работу по сбору образцов почвы астероида.

И последний вопрос по Луне. Конгресс США убеждает NASA в необходимости туда отправиться. Будут ли меняться, и если да, насколько значительно, те скафандры, в которых летали астронавты миссии Apollo? И вообще нужно ли что-то менять?Изменения будут очень значительные, по многим параметрам. Миссия Apollo была на грани выживания. Рабочее давление в скафандрах было на самом минимальном уровне, еще бы чуть ниже и астронавты могли нанести вред своему здоровью. В новых лунных скафандрах рабочее давление будет значительно выше. В кабине лунного посадочного модуля перелетного корабля будет нормальное давление, ну может быть чуть-чуть пониженное, как в кабинах пассажирских самолетов. В таких условиях все будут нормально себя чувствовать. Какие еще изменения? Безусловно, это будут скафандры с задним входом, какими их сделали в начале 60-х годов советские инженеры.

Здесь есть еще один момент. Скафандры программы Аполлон был с гермомолниями, которые тяжело закрываются и открываются. Отказ или поломка одного «зуба» приведет к отказу всей молнии. Вся молния разойдется, и скафандр окажется открытым. Астронавт погибнет. NASA тогда ввело дублирование, одна гермомолния поверх другой. Сначала космонавт должен одну молнию закрыть, затем другую. Но это очень неудобно. В результате получился толстый пакет, который колом стоит на скафандре и его негде было разместить. Но выхода не было, причем молнию приходилось делать длинной. Все потому, что вход в скафандр должен быть достаточно большой, чтобы человек мог влезть. Потому что, даже если ты засунул ноги, плечи могут не влезть. Вход в скафандр — это один из критических вопросов разработки скафандров, поэтому в общем знаменателе нужен скафандр ВКД с входным люком сзади.

Николай, большое спасибо вам за интервью, за то, что нашли время рассказать нашим читателям о том, как обстоит дело в космонавтике со скафандрами!


See also

New and interesting