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  Historic shuttle spacesuits to meet fiery end

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Author Topic:   Historic shuttle spacesuits to meet fiery end
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 30714
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-06-2007 07:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Historic shuttle spacesuits to meet fiery end
Lack of room in new craft may prevent museum displays
quote:
While museums bid for retired space shuttle orbiters, the real prize may be the spacewalking spacesuits, at least if NASA's plans for them hold true. The now-reusable extravehicular mobility units (EMUs) are soon to become disposable, allowed to disintegrate as they reenter the Earth's atmosphere inside spent cargo ships.

Mercury7
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Posts: 360
From: Greenville, SC, USA
Registered: Aug 2006

posted 06-06-2007 08:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mercury7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Russians will figure out some way to get them home... serious money to be made.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30714
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-06-2007 09:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Doering spoke about bringing back gloves and other small EMU components as it compared to the cosmonauts' current activities:
quote:
The gloves and the components of that size are certainly things we will be able to bring back should we need to. We do [currently] bring gloves, in particular, home and they get reused and reflown again. While we have individually sized gloves primarily, if an astronaut comes through the selection process and gets selected for EVA and they happen to be able to fit into a previously custom glove, we'll use those. Not everybody gets a custom and it happens quite frequently; we have a lot of folks who are able to use some existing gloves and not have to build a custom for them. We do have the ability to build a couple of pairs of custom gloves a year; we factor that in to our budgets and allocations simply because as the crews get assigned we can't guarantee they fit into an existing pair. Now some of those will be able to be brought back.

On the cosmonaut side, what I can tell you is from what I know is that they are not supposed to be bringing them back. Those are officially de-manifested with the Progress, although we do know that a lot of them do come back in their personal gear. Orlan gloves do not get reused.


MarylandSpace
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Posts: 1066
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posted 06-06-2007 09:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rob, I enjoyed your writing of this article.

Garry

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30714
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-06-2007 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Garry, it was an interesting topic to research and report. It could have also gone on for several more pages and there may be a part two or a print feature article in the future.

cfreeze79
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Posts: 320
From: Martinez, CA, USA
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 06-06-2007 10:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cfreeze79   Click Here to Email cfreeze79     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't forget - one of the Russian spacesuits became "SuitSat", broadcasting radios tranmissions for amatuer radio hobbyists across the globe.

music_space
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Posts: 1075
From: Canada
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 06-06-2007 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is there not a need for a Progress-type spacecraft with landing capability? With the end of the Shuttle program, the possibility to bring back down larger payloads will be gone, and Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules such as Leonardo will be rendered useless.

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François Guay
Collector of litterature, notebooks, equipment and memories!

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30714
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-06-2007 11:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cfreeze79:
Don't forget - one of the Russian spacesuits became "SuitSat", broadcasting radios tranmissions for amatuer radio hobbyists across the globe.
I asked Doering about future possible EMU suitsats. Here was his reply from our interview:
quote:
From purely a personal perspective, it's very disturbing for me to watch a suit float away in the configuration that it did when we did the Orlan the other day, but there has been no discussion on that.

From purely an EVA and hardware standpoint, there's no benefit for us to be tossing the suits overboard to watch them float away. That one in particular was a HAM radio experiment and we've not been approached by anyone to factor that in at this point.


Perhaps now that the community is being made aware of the EMUs final fate, proposals will be submitted...

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30714
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-06-2007 11:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By the way, if you liked this story, you can Digg it.

Matt T
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Posts: 1356
From: Chester, Cheshire, UK
Registered: May 2001

posted 06-06-2007 02:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting article Robert - particularly for owners of soon-to-be-rare shuttle spacesuit parts.

I'm a little puzzled though; if NASA plan to extend the longevity of suits surely that will be achieved in part by replacing some elements, resulting in the 'retirement' of some existing hardware?

Also the maths of the situation isn't entirely clear to me. As of 2007 there are sufficient elements to create 12 complete EMUs. NASA intends to place four non-returnable suits on the ISS in 2010, each with a hoped for life of 3 to 6 years. Isn't it a rather pessimistic expectation that only one or two full suits worth of spares would remain 6 years later?

Cheers,
Matt

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www.spaceracemuseum.com

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30714
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-06-2007 03:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Matt T:
I'm a little puzzled though; if NASA plan to extend the longevity of suits surely that will be achieved in part by replacing some elements, resulting in the 'retirement' of some existing hardware?
As Doering explained it in our interview, the current two-year lifespan on-orbit is not based on any hard deadline but rather a lack of any need to keep them there any longer. They don't know (yet) what, if any, ill effects exist should the suits be left longer on station, which is why they are undergoing the studies they are now. Previously, crew members weren't trained to service the suits either, so that is also needed before they can officially approve a longer longevity.

If there are components that are deemed no longer flight worthy they will either be entered into bond, to later be used for display suits or downgraded to Class III for use in training. Valerie Neal commented on the condition of the suits after they were used in the neutral buoyancy lab:

quote:
As I understand it, some of the flown suits and components have been declassified as from Class I to Class III and then they are used in the neutral buoyancy lab. And after they put them through the neutral buoyancy lab they are basically exhausted and not worth much of all any more. They are basically ruined.
As Doering said in the article, even if the parts are held in bond, it is also a question of when the funds would be available to assemble the display suits.
quote:
Also the maths of the situation isn't entirely clear to me. As of 2007 there are sufficient elements to create 12 complete EMUs. NASA intends to place four non-returnable suits on the ISS in 2010, each with a hoped for life of 3 to 6 years. Isn't it a rather pessimistic expectation that only one or two full suits worth of spares would remain 6 years later?
The goal is to have four on station by 2010, but the four may not necessarily be launched at the same time or have the same lifespan (the clock starts ticking when they are assembled for launch, not when they reach the station). If all four suits had a guaranteed six years longevity at the end of 2010, then only four suits would be needed (barring failures). But that's not likely to be the case, with suits having to be swapped out over the years that follow the shuttle program. From a failure rate perspective, you only need to look back a few years time when all three EMUs on ISS were out of service, waiting for parts from the ground and the trained crewmen to repair them.

Matt T
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Posts: 1356
From: Chester, Cheshire, UK
Registered: May 2001

posted 06-07-2007 01:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the extra info, I'd certainly like to see a part two to this article.

Cheers,
Matt

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www.spaceracemuseum.com

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