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  Chinese "Feitian" EVA spacesuit

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Author Topic:   Chinese "Feitian" EVA spacesuit
dom
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posted 03-05-2008 04:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Although we will find out for definite at the end of the year, there's speculation in this article that the Chinese Taikonaut who 'steps out' into space on their next mission might be wearing something more like an American EVA suit rather than the expected Russian Orlan copy.

Anyone any info on where they are manufactured? Anyone seen a Chinese spacesuit up close?

dom
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posted 03-06-2008 05:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can any of our resident spacesuit collectors tell if Chinese spacesuits are really "Made in China" (ie. copied) or were they bought directly from the manufacturer in Russia?

This will probably have a big influence on the final design of the EVA suit...

dom
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posted 03-17-2008 03:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think I've found a small clue to what the Chinese EVA suit looks like.

dom
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posted 05-05-2008 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The design of the Chinese EVA spacesuit can finally be seen on this short clip from Chinese TV posted on YouTube:

It seems to be a copy of the Soviet Orlan!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-05-2008 12:29 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 dom:
It seems to be a copy of the Soviet Orlan!
Could those not be Orlan suits bought from Zvesda for training purposes? What distinguishes them in the video from the known Orlan models?

dom
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posted 05-05-2008 12:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Surely it makes more sense for them to have bought the rights to manufacturer their own version - rather than rely on a Russian company (which may become less friendly in the future) to supply something this vital?

Has anyone any ideas (or hard facts!) to comfirm if Zvezda supplied them "off the peg" to the Chinese?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-05-2008 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I am not suggesting that if these are Orlan that they are also going to being flying with Orlan suits. But it's entirely possible that the Orlans were purchased for basic training while the Chinese suits were/are under development. Is there any indication of when the shown footage was shot?

dom
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posted 05-05-2008 02:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A fair point...

Unfortunately, I don't think that will be answered for sure until they open the hatch on Shenzhou VII this October!

John Charles
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posted 05-05-2008 09:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
...But it's entirely possible that the Orlans were purchased for basic training while the Chinese suits were/are under development...

Robert,

On the basis of nothing except the visible evidence, I now think that the Chinese have simply purchased Sokol-type and Orlan-type suits from the Russian manufacturer, Zvezda. Otherwise, why would they seem to copy the suits so perfectly--right down to the blue piping on the Sokol suits (could it really be important functionally?)--while at the same time they modified the basic Soyuz architecture to make it more suitable to their mission needs, instead of just "copying" the Soyuz wholesale?

I think the Chinese found the Sokols and Orlans to be "good enough" off-the-shelf, while Soyuz needed modifications tomeet their needs.

Note that other entities have purchased Sokol suits from Zvezda (for example, the now-dormant British Qinetic and Team ReMax high-altitude balloon projects), so there is precedent.

My logic is not conclusive, but it does seem to be the simpler explanation.

------------------
John Charles
Houston, Texas

dom
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posted 07-22-2008 12:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just when it looked like the mystery was finally solved along comes more intrigue.

Are the Russians starting to play hardball over the use of the Orlan spacesuit?

I always thought it strange that the mission wasn't scheduled to take place during the Olympics. So, perhaps they have to use a homegrown design which has delayed the mission...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-22-2008 12:51 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 dom:
I always thought it strange that the mission wasn't scheduled to take place during the Olympics.
There are multiple reasons why China would refrain from staging the mission during the Olympics. The most obvious would be in the case of failure -- even a delay to the launch would cause added embarrassment before an international audience.

But even if everything were to proceed as planned, why 'waste' a chance for national prestige by combining events? If you launch during the Olympics, then the mission and the games become one event, but if staged, then you receive double the exposure.

dom
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posted 07-22-2008 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can guarantee you that not many people (apart from us!) will even notice the first Chinese spacewalk when it eventually occurs.

I'm pretty sure the Chinese would have loved a live broadcast from a Taikonaut in orbit during the opening ceremony of the Olympics - even better if he was carrying "The Torch" during an EVA!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-25-2008 10:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Shanghai Daily reported on Thursday that the taikonaut that will leave the airlock during China's first spacewalk will "wear a Chinese-made space suit."
Unlike its American counterparts, the China-made suit will not have its own power system. A cord will link the astronaut with the spacecraft to provide oxygen, power and communications.

The suit for the space-walk astronaut on the Shenzhou VII mission was developed by Chinese scientists based on the Russian design, Pang said.

The astronaut who remains in the airlock will wear a Russian space suit. However, future missions will exclusively use the Chinese suits.

Thus a Russian 'off-the-shelf' Orlan spacesuit will fly on Shenzhou VII but so will a 'Made in China' version, which will be donned by the taikonaut spacewalker.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-24-2008 05:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Chinese EVA spacesuit is called the "Feitian", reports Xinhua:

Chinese Taikonauts to wear Russian, indigenous space suits in space walk

China's Shenzhou-7 astronauts will wear the Orlan space suits provided by a Russian supplier and also the indigenous Feitian suit during the country's first ever space walk, said Wang Zhaoyao, spokesman with China's manned space program on Wednesday.

Two astronauts who are scheduled to perform the extravehicular activities (EVA) will each wear the Orlan and the Fetian suit, and Russian experts will provide technical support for the process, retold a news conference at the launch center.

According to a contract signed in April, 2004, a Russia company provides three Orlan suits, two low-pressure training suits, four suits for underwater training, and four sets of docking systems in the craft. The Chinese side is responsible for providing power and communications equipment for some of the EVA suits.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-25-2008 10:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This photo (credit: Getty Images) appears to show a side-by-side rear comparison of the Chinese Feitian (left) and Russian Orlan (right) spacesuits.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-25-2008 08:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another photo from the same session (credit: Xinhua):

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-26-2008 12:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a CNSA graphic of the Feitian spacesuit:

dom
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posted 09-26-2008 02:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if the difference from the Orlan design around the chest area is just "cosmetic" and it's the same old underneath...

Also, it will be interesting to see if they try bring both these two test EVA suits back to Earth in the descent capsule - as there might be enough spare room.

Otherwise, they are going to have to leave them inside the Orbital module, where they will remain for two years plus in orbit until the next mission.

Will they still be usable after that amount of time?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-26-2008 02:58 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 dom:
Otherwise, they are going to have to leave them inside the Orbital module, where they will remain for two years plus in orbit until the next mission.
I haven't seen anything yet to indicate the planned fate of the suits, but I believe the orbital module is expected to be placed into a decaying orbit. There were reports that to insure the safety of this first spacewalk, the orbital module was launched without its solar arrays, limiting its usefulness post-separation.

dom
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posted 09-26-2008 03:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Then I'd be very surprised if they simply leave them in orbit. The Chinese budget surely doesn't extend to throwing away two very expensive spacesuits after only 40 minutes of use?

It might be a very tight squeeze but these two suits (or substantial parts of them) are probably coming back with the Taikonauts!

E2M Lem Man
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posted 09-26-2008 04:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man   Click Here to Email E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interestingly, the Chinese press release today said that the IVA astronaut will be wearing a Russian Orlon suit, which explains the photos of two suits. This is going to be something neat!

J.M. Busby

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-27-2008 11:21 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 E2M Lem Man:
This is going to be something neat!
For coverage of today's spacewalk, see: China's Shenzhou VII mission.

Jay Chladek
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posted 09-27-2008 12:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The suit design is certainly interesting. I see elements of Orlan and others that tend to resemble an EMU in it. So unlike the launch and entry suits the Chinese use which seem to be based very closely on Sokol, these suits seem to be unique. Plus I see something that almost looks like a SAFER unit strapped to the bottom.

Nice work!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-27-2008 12:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think that what you see as a SAFER-type unit may be the housing for a computer.

The Feitian appears to use a display and control module (DCM) similar to that of the Orlan MK, which has an LCD display. Its computer is at the base of the portable life support system backpack.

All times are CT (US)

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