The remodeled museum of “Research Development and Production Enterprise (RD&PE) ”Zvezda“ was opened to the public on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the flight of Yuri Gagarin. ”RD&PE “Zvezda” was organized in Tomilino, Moscow Region as the leading research enterprise for solving problems concerning crew safety on high-speed and high-altitude aircraft.
Since the first rescue and life support systems for cosmonauts were developed on the basis of aircraft technology, this was the enterprise that developed domestic space suits and protective suits for crews of all types of aircraft, onboard and autonomous life support systems, means of locomotion in open space, rescue systems, and many more elements necessary for pilots and astronauts to survive in extreme conditions.
The first director and chief designer of the enterprise was Semyon Mikhailovich Alekseev (1952–1964). From 1964 to 2008 it was led by Guy Severin, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The current chief designer and CEO is Sergey Pozdnyakov.
The museum grew out of the showroom of Zvezda's machine factory, which traces its history to 1961, when the first exhibition of samples of equipment developed by the enterprise was held in the spacious centrifuge building on the site of the aerospace medicine department.
In 1970 the showroom was transferred to a large room which is accessed by going from the lobby of the construction building down two flights of stairs under a full-scale model of the first artificial Earth satellite, donated to the enterprise staff by S. P. Korolyov, the chief designer of OKB-1. It is noteworthy that all the exhibits in the museum contain historical rarities, which are at least the samples that the test pilots and cosmonauts used for pre-flight training.
The enterprise’s very first astronautical designs were spacesuits for dogs. Dogs paved the way for human space travel, on the R-1 high-altitude modified rockets in 1953 and 1954. In order to rescue the animals, a catapult cart with an oxygen system was created, as well as a spacesuit. The pressurized animal cabin is on display in the museum.
Until early 1957 the enterprise was developing a single-dog cabin, which housed Laika, the first living creature to orbit the Earth. Two-dog cabins of a similar type were used in 1960 and 1961 in the flight testing of the Vostok spacecraft and mounted in a place of the regular cosmonaut’s ejection seat. Owing to the development of the pressurized animal cabin, Belka, Strelka, and other dogs successfully returned to Earth. Between 1961 and 1963, Soviet cosmonauts ejected from their landing modules using the same principle. For this reason, Yuri Gagarin once joked that he did not understand who he was in space: “the first person or the last dog.”
Ejection capsules with the suits for animals (dogs)
Pressurized animal capsule
Particularly valuable spacesuits that went into orbit are kept in special glass cases. In one unique exhibit is the first cosmonaut spacesuit SK-1, in which Yuri Gagarin made his space flight on April 12, 1961.
Another unique exhibit is the air - ventilated suit suit of Valentina Tereshkova on a shoulder of which a dove is embroidered.
Spacesuit of Yu. A. Gagarin
Air-ventilated suit of V. N. Tereshkova
The next exhibit presents the Berkut spacesuit. In 1965, Alexei Leonov wore it when he conducted the first spacewalk in the world for eleven minutes outside the spacecraft Voskhod-2. The protective jacket and boots of the suit are still stained with ashes from the fire that the cosmonauts built after their descent in the Siberian taiga, when they were not located for more than two days after landing.
The exhibition also features a full-size simulator from the airlock Volga and the landing module Voskhod-2, on which the crew worked through the process of spacewalks during ground training.
The semi-rigid spacesuit Krechet was developed and tested for the Soviet lunar expeditions between 1964 and 1968. The museum presents one of the few surviving suits Krechet.
Spaceship model "Voskhod 2" with the lock chambers "Volga"
Astronauts wear water cooled costumes for removal heat from the body heat during intense physical work.
Water cooled suit
The manned maneuvering unit 21 KS is another unique product. It was designed to allow the inspection of the outer surface of the space station Mir and the maintenance of the reusable orbiter Buran. This unit was used twice in real flight in 1990 by cosmonauts Aleksandr Serebrov and Aleksandr Viktorenko.
Despite Russia’s abandonment of the manned program Buran, the Zvezda enterprise still fulfilled its obligations under the project completely. Besides the manned maneuvering unit 21 KS, which underwent space flight tests, from 1977 to 1989, Zvezda designed an ejection seat specifically for the orbiter, with a booster module K-36RB, and the emergency spacesuit Strizh. The ejection seat and the spacesuit are unique in their characteristics, because they provide means of rescue for the cosmonauts during the launch, orbit, and descent to the Earth.
Spaceman unit for moving and maneuvering "21 КS"
Rescue spacesuit "Strizh" with the ejection seat "К-36RB"
Another unique item is the rescue suit Sokol - KV2, which used by Svetlana Savitskaya, the first woman - cosmonaut, who wlaked in open space.
The exhibition presents a joint Russian-European design of the Strizh-KhEV suit for the ascent to a record altitude of 40 km in the open car of a high-altitude balloon.
Rescue spacesuit "Sokol - KV2"
Rescue spacesuit "Strizh - KhEV"
In order to lift the British aeronauts in the car of the high-altitude balloon QinetiQ to the altitude of 40 km in the first years of the 21st century, Zvezda modified its modern spacesuit "Sokol" into the suit " Sokol - STR", consisting of a thermal control system, a protective equipment, and an oxygen system.
Full pressure suit "Sokol - STR"
The spacesuit has been designed for the project “Mars - 500” to imitate a flight and landing of the international crew on the planet Mars. The duration of the experiment was 500 days. Experiments of similating the landing on Mars and the work of the crew on the surface were successfully conducted in the spacesuit “ Mars - 500”.
Spacesuit for the program "Mars - 500"
The means of preventing the adverse effects of weightlessness on a long flight are well represented. The loading suit Pingvin uses built-in elastic bands and springs to cause the cosmonaut's muscles and spine to take on weight in a weightless enviroment.
Loading suit "Pingvin"
The pneumatic vacuum suit Chibis ensures a redistribution of blood flow to the lower limbs by creating a vacuum in the suit. There is also a very interesting exhibit of a sanitary design for space stations: a shower installation and a hygienic sewage disposal system, in other words, a space toilet.
Pneumatic vacuum suit "Chibis"
Waste collection system
The diving suit “Forel” is a fascinating equipment that ensured the survival of cosmonauts who landed in adverse conditions.
Diving suit "Forel"
The aviation exhibition begins with the first models of ejection seats. The next exhibit is the model of a seat K-22. According to factory tests, K-22 had a higher performance, so work on other model seats ceased. In 1960 the enterprise started to develop K-24 withh a combined energy sensor. K - 24 had a firing mechanism and a powder rocket engine, and allowed for the autonomous exit of a pilot with a back parachute and ejection through a canopy.
Ejection seat К-22
Ejection seat К-24
Among the later developments made by the enterprise were the experimental seats K-30, K-32, and K-34, which contributed to the creation of the standard ejection seat K-36. In 1969 and 1970, government tests of the K-36 seat were successfully completed. The testing of prototypes and the introduction of a standard system was directed by the chief designer of the enterprise, Guy Severin.
When the tests of K-36 were completed, Severin proposed the new seat to aircraft manufacturers, arguing for the efficiency and reliability of a standard system. The only one who immediately agreed was P. O. Sukhoi, who put two seats K-36D on Su-24 bomber. Once they were convinced of the high performance of the seat K-36 , the bureaus of A. I. Mikoyan, A. N. Tupolev, and A. S. Yakovlev followed suit.
Thus, the competition for K-36 and its modifications ended in victory for Zvezda. During the period when K-36’s have been in use, more than 1,000 pilots have been saved, of whom 97% returned to flight operations, 2% left the profession, and only 1% were injured to the point of disability.
Ejection seat К-36L
In early 2001 the company designed and manufactured the seat K-36D-3,5 , which is also displayed in the museum. These new seats have been installed on Su-30MKI fighters exported to India, as well as the Su-30, Su-34, Su-35, MiG-29M, MiG-29K, and MiG-29KUB.
Ejection seat К-36D-3,5
The museum also contains the ultralight ejection system SKS-94M, which is designed for general aviation, as well as training, patrol, agricultural, and aerobatic aircraft. A unique escape method was implemented in SKS - 94 that is unparalleled in the world.
Ejection system SKS-94М2
The exhibition presents unique medical equipment intended for aiding pilots in extreme conditions.
Anti-shock suit "Chestnut"
Medicinal suit "Adele"
Pressure chamber "Irtysh - МТ"
As a result of more than sixty years of intensive work, the Zvezda enterprise has created various types of personal protective equipment and oxygen equipment that has minimized pilot injuries and enabled their return to the flying profession.
Curator—The museum of the Zvezda Research Development and Production Enterprise (RD&PE)