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  Blacked out serial numbers on Sokol gloves

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Author Topic:   Blacked out serial numbers on Sokol gloves
Rick Mulheirn
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Posts: 3755
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 02-19-2018 03:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can anybody tell me why exactly the serial numbers on some Sokol gloves are blacked out?

Have they been decommissioned and this is equivalent to the red line Class III marking on Apollo and shuttle suits? Or perhaps the gloves are flown, and the seller wishes to hide that fact from the authorities?

I have a pair of Sokol KV2 gloves with the serial number blacked out. They were sold to me about 20 years ago as "possibly flown" but their uncertain provenance meant they were priced cheap and without evidence to the contrary, I have always presumed them unflown.

Any insight would be appreciated.

Philip
Member

Posts: 5678
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 02-19-2018 07:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Normally each cosmonaut gets two pairs of Sokol gloves with his/her initials. In practice it looks like gloves with blacked out serials were only used in training... or might be even a third pair with initials?

Almost every time, genuine flown gloves mostly come with clear full serial number and one or more space station stamps.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38932
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-19-2018 08:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Most of the flown gloves that I have seen, in museums and in personal collections, were not stamped. The only stamped gloves I can recall are those where the cosmonaut already had a deal in place prior to the mission (or arranged during the flight) to sell them to a collector.

When I first started collecting in the 1990s, I was told that the blacked out serial number and yellow paint on the wrist ring were the signs that the gloves had flown. But in the years since, I have seen and been given reason to doubt that assertion as a steadfast rule.

Presumably, NPP Zvezda could resolve this by releasing a list of serial numbers corresponding to flown Sokol equipment, but it has no reason to do that and from accounts I have read, is further disinclined to do so.

On edit: For example, the National Air and Space Museum has flown Sokol gloves worn by Vladmir Aksenov (Soyuz T-2), Anatoly Artsebarsky (Soyuz TM-12), Anatoli Levchenko (Soyuz TM-4), Norm Thagard (Soyuz TM-21) and Dennis Tito (Soyuz TM-32). All have exposed serial numbers and no stamps.

Philip
Member

Posts: 5678
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 02-19-2018 09:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Indeed Robert, the above mentioned gloves stayed in the "official" (US-NASA-NASM) circuit. I have seen lots of Sokol gloves with blacked out serial, especially used during training, some by cosmonauts who never flew a mission (e.g. Kuzhelnaya).

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38932
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-19-2018 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In fact, none of the gloves in the National Air and Space Museum's collection came from the NASA to Smithsonian official "circuit."

The Aksenov, Artsebarsky and Levchenko gloves were donated to the museum by collectors who bought them from the cosmonauts. Tito donated his gloves (and suit) after acquiring them from Roscosmos (I had the privilege of hand delivering them to the museum).

And, it is my understanding that NASA had to negotiate Thagard's Sokol suit (and gloves) being provided by Roscosmos so they could be presented to the museum. They were not in NASA control. So any regular tradition of blacking out serial numbers or the like would have been done before the donation, had that been the case.

SpaceAholic
Member

Posts: 4099
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-19-2018 05:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another tangential note while researching a set of Sokol gloves retained on this end (in this case astronaut Ed Lu's), owner identifying initials for Russian "home boys" will always consist of three letters, foreigners are differentiated with two.

And obfuscation of serial numbers (i.e. black out) is most certainly to inhibit traceability.

Philip
Member

Posts: 5678
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 02-20-2018 06:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, thanks for sharing these interesting facts giving some insight how the National Air and Space Museum acquired those space-flown Russian items...

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