The only Russian spacesuit on display at Space Center Houston, the Orlan spacesuit was developed by the Russian aerospace contractor Zvesda. The suit’s design is modeled after the Kretchet suit, which was originally intended for use by the Soviets on the moon. Crewmembers put the suit on by climbing in through a back opening and closing it behind them.
This Orlan suit is outfitted with a Cosmonaut Maneuvering Unit, or the “Flying Armchair.” The “Armchair” was only flown twice from Mir in February 1990 and was discontinued in favor of a simpler system using cranes and tethers. Two Orlan suits similar to this one are still used onboard the International Space Station.
The suit’s life support and temperature are controlled and monitored with a control panel on the arm. A liquid crystal display provides information about the suit’s systems and supply levels. Many of the characters are written backwards so a cosmonaut can view them with a mirror attached at the wrist.
Two control pods were operated by hand to maneuver in space. Toggles on each control unit operated the yaw, pitch and roll of the space suit. The control pods also have a gauge which displays how much propellant remains in the pack.
Each set of blue steel circles are nozzles which released compressed nitrogen to propel the spacewalker. During the tests, cosmonauts floated up to 132 feet away from Mir. The original backpack remained on Mir and was destroyed when Mir reentered the Earth’s atmosphere as planned.
The Orlan Suit is on loan by Mr. Art Dula. See this Russian spacesuit in Space Center Houston’s Astronaut Gallery.