Written by Saachi Singh, a grade 8 student
An astronaut travelling to space needs various kinds of equipment for survival, research, data collection, and storage, etc. It’s important that everything that an astronaut uses, and also the structure they live in must be safe and tested and not compromise the astronaut’s safety in any way. They require these additional cautions as space is a hostile environment, not conducive for human survival and comfort.
Astronauts need life support systems to be able to survive in space. A life support system is an artificial or natural system that provides all or some of the items (such as oxygen, food and water, control of temperature and pressure, disposition of carbon dioxide and body wastes) necessary for maintaining life or health.
These are vitalities that space lacks. For designing, developing, funding, and manufacturing artificial bodysuits and living quarters for astronauts in space, we need companies that specialize in their production.
Zvezda is the first such successful corporation in Russia and it is making suits for India’s Gaganyaan astronauts
Zvezda is a Russian aeronautics firm known for designing and developing portable life support systems for aircraft and spacecraft crew. This means it produces aviation and space suits for pilots and astronauts. Yuri Gagarin, Alexei Leonov, and Valentina Terekshova were some of the first astronauts to have worn Zvezda suits. Established in 1952, it’s located near Moscow.
In Russian, ‘Zvezda’ (звезда) means ‘Star’.
India’s Gaganyaan Mission
Announced in August 2018 by the Prime Minister of India in his Independence Day address, the Indian Gaganyaan Mission is a crewed orbital spacecraft designed to carry 3 people. It has been undertaken by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) – India’s space agency. Meant for three launches – two largely automated unmanned, and one manned – it is to complete all missions before India’s 75th Independence Day in 2022.
The first unmanned mission is set for December 2020, but will likely be delayed due to disruptions caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic, according to some sources. The other two launches are planned for June 2021 and December 2021, the last one being manned, much before the 2022 deadline.
The spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 kilometers. The total programme cost is expected to be less than Rs 10,000 crores.
India And Russia’s Collaboration
On 1st July 2019, an agreement was signed by ISRO’s Human Space Flight Centre and Glavcosmos, (a subsidiary of the Russian state corporation Roscosmos) signed for cooperation in the selection, support, medical examination and space training of Indian astronauts.
In June, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, had said that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the training of four Indian astronauts in Russia had to be halted. It has now resumed.
Zvezda is currently designing spacesuits for the Indian Astronauts who will be voyaging in the manned mission along with their personal seats and custom-made couch liners.
A second contract was signed on October 25th to evaluate the possibility of using Russian life support systems and thermal control for Gaganyaan, so we can expect the firm to have a considerable role in India’s Gaganyaan Mission.
A statement was issued by Rocosmos in August 2020 saying the selected astronauts were attending “courses of the general space training programme and of the systems of the Soyuz MS crewed spacecraft”.
In June, the astronauts had passed training in short-term weightlessness mode aboard the IL-76MDK special laboratory aircraft, and in July, they had been trained to lift aboard a helicopter while evacuating from the descent module landing point.
Other Zveda Products
The company is known to have designed rocket-powered sleds to send animals to space. This proved to have an immense usage in the 1950s when countries were sending animals to space to check for survival chances. Some other remarkable products are Space Toilets and Ejection Seats, which have saved the lives of many pilots since its invention.
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