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DRDO lab to develop spacesuits for Indian vyomanauts
Mar '12
The Defence Bioengineering and Electromedical Laboratory (Debel), a laboratory of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), will be designing and producing spacesuits for vyomanauts, as the Indian astronauts will be called.

The Bangalore-based Debel has previously created flight clothing for air crew as well as nuclear biological and chemical (NBC) protection suits. It has now been assigned to develop the highly complex suits to be used by vyomanauts in India's first human space mission likely to be launched in 2015-16.

Dr. W Selvamurthy, DS & CC, R&D (Life Sciences & International Cooperation) with DRDO, told fibre2fashion, “Debel will design and produce spacesuits for the first vyomanauts of India.”

Explaining the unique properties that the spacesuits will have, he says, “The spacesuit is primarily meant for extra-vehicular activities (EVA) in the open space. Hence, it has to protect the wearer from the harsh environments encountered in open space in the form of enhanced radiation, extreme variations in temperature and orbiting micrometeroid particles.”

Continuing further, he says, “Also, the spacesuit should have a dedicated life support system that provides the inescapable and highly essential liveable atmosphere for the wearer encapsulated in the spacesuit. The suit will also have (a) the waste management system to support the wearer involved in long hours of EVA, (b) communication system, and (c) the inbuilt physiological health monitoring system to monitor the health of the wearer.”

Talking about the materials that will be used to make these spacesuits, he says, “Materials that are used in the making of spacesuits are similar to the ones that are used in the making of the protective systems, but the materials are specifically made to meet stringent specifications in order to ensure protection to the wearer in outer space. Materials that are used include but not necessarily limited to the following: nylon, spandex, nomex, Kevlar, Dacron, Teflon, neoprene coated nylon fabric, polyurethane coated nylon fabric, aluminized Mylar, polycarbonate, and fibreglass composite.”

Informing about Debel's experience in designing protection suits, he says, “Debel has designed and developed Life Support Systems and Protection equipment (a) for the fighter pilots, (b) paratroopers, (c) to facilitate escape of the crew from the grounded submarine, (d) for personnel exposed to contaminated environments and (e) for cold conditions. All of these systems utilize one or the many materials that will be used in making spacesuits. However, all the protection suits designed so far have been meant for applications other than space, and hence their testing has not been carried out in space.”

Giving an idea about the cost and time factors for making the spacesuits, he says, “No estimate of the cost has been made for the indigenous development. It may take anywhere between 5-10 years for the indigenous development. Approximate cost of the imported spacesuit is few million dollars and it takes about 5000 man hours or roughly about three months if all the sub-systems are available.”

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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