Russian Spacesuits key to India's Gaganyaan Mission

04:40 PM Jan 20, 2024 | Team Udayavani |

The Gaganyaan mission is set to send three Indian astronauts to space, about 400 kilometers above Earth. They will stay there for three days.


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is preparing for the 2025 Gaganyaan mission. They have chosen to use Russian Intra Vehicular Activity (IVA) suits for this mission, picking them over other options from India and around the world.In 2020, the Russian company Zvezda secured the contract.It was a clear decision for ISRO to select the spacesuit made in Russia.Nathan Eismont, a top researcher at Russia’s Space Research Institute, explained to Sputnik that India’s decision to pick Russian spacesuits was expected because they are known to be the most dependable globally.

Understanding Spacesuits and Pressure in Space:

A spacesuit isn’t just a regular, fancy outfit or a simple costume. It’s an essential gear for survival in space, where the environment is extremely different from Earth. In space, there’s a lot of pressure due to its emptiness. This unique characteristic of space creates conditions that are vastly different from those on Earth. For instance, a balloon in space behaves differently than it would on our planet.

Here’s how it works: a balloon is filled with air, which is under pressure. On Earth, the air pressure inside the balloon is balanced by the air pressure outside it. However, in space, there is no air to balance the pressure inside the balloon. As a result, the air inside pushes outwards more strongly, causing the balloon to expand. If the pressure inside becomes too much and there’s nothing outside to stop it, the balloon will keep expanding until it bursts. This simple example illustrates the extreme conditions in space and the importance of specialized equipment like spacesuits.


“Protective Suits in Space”

IVA suits are important because they keep the right pressure to prevent humans from getting hurt in space. They not only give oxygen but also create a pressure similar to what we feel at lower heights on Earth. If someone goes higher than 63,000 feet (about 19 km) without these suits, their body could swell, and the water in their body, like saliva and eye fluid, could start to boil.

In areas with extremely low pressure, such as high up in the atmosphere or in outer space, the body’s fluids like saliva and eye liquid can start to boil. This happens not because of high heat, but due to the lack of sufficient pressure to keep these fluids as liquids. The boiling point of these fluids drops below their normal level on Earth. That’s why wearing spacesuits in such environments is essential, as they help maintain the necessary pressure around the body to avoid this phenomenon.The temperature in space is as low as -129 degrees Celsius.

Nathan Eismont pointed out that astronauts must always wear spacesuits in space. This is because space is very cold and has harmful radiation. Without a spacesuit for protection, an astronaut would not survive. Additionally, these suits supply the necessary air for astronauts to breathe.

” Testing of Spacesuits Explained”

There are different kinds of spacesuits used for different activities. Some are for wearing inside the spacecraft, while others are for spacewalks. For the Gaganyaan mission, we’re talking about the Intra-Vehicular Activity (IVA) suit. In November 2019, ISRO, India’s space agency, asked for designs for a spacesuit. They chose Zvezda, a Russian company, to make it.

Intra-Vehicular Activity (IVA) refers to the activities that astronauts carry out inside their spacecraft. This is different from Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA), which involves spacewalks or activities outside the spacecraft. IVA suits are designed to be worn inside the spacecraft for protection and support during the mission.

Testing a spacesuit involves several steps. One test checks if the suit allows the body and joints to move correctly. Another test looks at how the suit handles temperature and vacuum conditions. There are also tests to make sure the suit doesn’t collect too much carbon dioxide, as it’s important for astronauts to have clean air to breathe.

The Russian spacesuits have already been tested, and a new local company wouldn’t be able to do this quickly. Zvezda was awarded the contract in 2020.

“Russia Acknowledged as World Leader in Space Tech”

Space collaboration has been an important part of the relationship between India and Russia for many years. In the 1960s, Russia provided India with advanced computers. Then, in the 1990s, they shared technology for rocket engines that work at extremely low temperatures. Recently, Russia has helped train Indian astronauts for India’s first manned space mission, Gaganyaan, and other projects.

Dr. Venkateswaran emphasized to Sputnik the importance of Russian space technology, pointing out its long-term development and worldwide reliability. He mentioned that Russia’s space technology has improved over many years, earning trust globally, not just in India but also in the United States, where they depend on Russian space advancements, the expert noted.

Dr. Venkateswaran noted that recently, many human spaceflights have been on Russian spacecraft, even by the US. He mentioned that after the Challenger space shuttle accident in 1986, where seven astronauts died, the US started using Russian space services for launches and other activities. He also said that Russian space technology is well-trusted for its quality. When exploring new areas in space, it’s best to rely on proven and reliable technology, he suggested.

Gaganyaan Mission

Before the main mission, the Indian space agency is doing multiple tests. Following the TV-D1 test flight in October 2023, ISRO plans to do a test flight with a robot named ‘Vyomitra’, which is a humanoid astronaut, and also an uncrewed flight, all before sending a crew into space.

(The author of this article is a Defence, Aerospace & Political Analyst based in Bengaluru. He is also Director of ADD Engineering Components, India, Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany. You can reach out to him at:


Udayavani is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest news.