L-418: Logbook

This is a continuation of Monday’s Logbook about the movie “Gravity”. If you have missed it, please read L-420 Logbook first!

Picking up where I left off, here are some more aspects of the movie that tend towards the fiction side of science fiction. Again, spoiler alert!

8)      Spacewalking.
Spacewalks in the movie are impressive performances worth of a Cirque du Soleil show. Unfortunately that’s not very realistic. Actual spacewalking suits are very rigid and have metal joints that constrain movements: range of motion and dexterity are limited and so is one’s field of view from inside the helmet. Even with all the extra boost from a big adrenaline rush, sorry, there’s just no way you could pull off all those numbers.
9)      Airlock ops
The ISS airlock that Dr. Stone breaks into is the Russian one, which is used for spacewalks on the Russian segment with the Russian suit Orlan. The airlock is beautifully rendered in amazing detail, so never mind that the blue knob turned by Dr. Stone would not initiate repressurization, that repressurization would anyway take much longer and that getting out of the EMU suit, even with help, takes quite some time. Where I really would like to set the record straight is the underwear department. The tank top and shorts that Dr. Stone is wearing are, well, quite an astonishing fashion statement as far as spacewalks go. In reality, spacewalkers wear very unfashionable, but way more protective, long-sleeved underwear and a cooling undergarment which is a mesh of about 100 meters of tiny tubes (see picture). Water is circulated in those tubes to remove heat from the body and it  which is then rejected into space via a sublimator. In the world of real spacewalks, no cooling, no party.
 10)      Undocking the Soyuz.
Yes, it is a bit more complicated than just pushing the ‘ON’ button and sending the undock command. You need to perform leak checks and bring a number of systems online before you can leave. The thought of just jumping into a Soyuz and go was so amusingly grotesque to me that it’s one of those moments when I burst out laughing. But, here’s a big but: thinking about it some more, I actually think you could do it. I mean, in principle you could show up in your underwear, turn on the control panel, power up the docking system and send the command to open the hooks. As long as the hatch is closed the command would be accepted and once the hooks open up the spring loaded pushers would give you some separation velocity. I guess if you were really in a hurry, why not? You better have a good plan of what to do next, though, and start turning on vital equipment as soon as you are on your way.
11)      Parachute
I won’t say this too loud, but… you can actually release the parachute from the descent module while comfortably sitting inside. It’s standard procedure to release one string after landing to avoid being dragged by the wind. In case of a water landing, you release both strings to avoid being dragged underwater by the parachute weight. That said, doing an improvised spacewalk was certainly more spectacular. But keep in mind that in the actual Soyuz there is no provision whatsoever to do spacewalks and not even a hint of a handrail to translate on. I guess this scene was a tribute to earlier times of the Soviet space program.

Enough for today, to be continued!


(Trad IT)  Traduzione in italiano a cura di +AstronautiNEWS  qui:

(Trad ES) Tradducción en español aquí:

(Trad FR) Traduction en français par +Anne Cpamoa   ici:
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