Saturday, November 8, 2008
Chinese Space Suit
On November 7th, I was privileged to be shown the Chinese EVA suit before it was put on display at the Beijing Military museum. I believe that no Americans had seen this suit before. It was a functional suit, though obviously not the one that was worn on the actual EVA in September. That suit was thrown away and destroyed during reentry, except for the gloves that were worn by Zhai Zhigang.
I was impressed with the suit. It has obvious Russian Orlan heritage, with some differences. The Display and Control Module looked similar, as did the pressure regulators and the oxygen injector switch. The hatch latching mechanism also looked similar. So did the umbilical interfaces. In fact, it is reasonable to assume that the spacecraft interfaces are identical to the Russian system, since the second suit worn my Liu Boming was in fact an Orlan.
There is nothing wrong with this approach. It is arguably optimal to take an existing design and improve upon it, while retaining critical systems that are proven. In my view, China is taking a very logical course in developing their manned space capability.