The Sokol suit and the "seal that keeps you alive"


Uploaded on December 14, 2012


The Sokol suit and the "seal that keeps you alive"

2012-12-14 - CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield, while training in Star City Russia, gives us an introduction to the Sokol ("Falcon") suit. This pressurized outfit is worn inside the Soyuz spacecraft during travel to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Hadfield will be launching on board the Soyuz December 19, 2012 to become Canada's first Commander of the ISS.

(Credit: Canadian Space Agency)


Chris Hadfield: Let me tell you what we got here. This is the Sokol suit. It means “falcon”. And this suit protects me against the loss of pressure in the spaceship. If the spaceship has a leak and all the air starts leaking out of it, then I would die if I were just wearing regular clothes. My blood would boil and I wouldn't be able to breathe. So that keeps a bubble of air around me. I just climb in through a hole. And I'm gonna seal this hole up, make it nice and tight, and then when I close my visor, I'm basically inside a small personal pressurized bubble.

Picture that we've had a fire on the space station. So the atmosphere is really bad. And so we get into the Soyuz and we close the hatch. If the atmosphere inside the Soyuz is also really smoky, then you would have to get into this thing as soon as you could 'cause you wouldn't be breathing very well. And then eventually you're gonna be able to plug yourself into this oxygen supply so that you have pure oxygen to breathe and that takes, we think, about twenty minutes – half and hour from detection of problem to where you're plugged into the Soyuz's oxygen and safely protected from the smoke.

You want to do this part really well because this is the seal that keeps you alive. And on the ground we have a big team of people that help us do this but of course, when you get to orbit, and before you come home from space, you've got to do this all yourself. So you don't want to mess this part up. And one of the very first crews that went to space from Russia in the Soyuz, they had a leak and they weren't wearing a suit like this. They didn't think they'd needed it back then. They opened up the hatch and the three guys inside were dead. And so ever since then we've worn these suits and we want to do this part right. You don't want to be one of those guys.


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