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Berkut spacesuit

During the historic mission of the Voskhod-2 spacecraft in March 1965, both of its crew members were wearing Berkut spacesuits. In combination with a removable life-support backpack, KP-55, Berkut was designed for short spacewalks, but, when plugged into the onboard life-support system, the suit could also protect cosmonauts in a depressurized spacecraft.


Berkut spacesuit sans external overalls

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Berkut spacesuit with KP-55 life-support system at a glance:

Development period
Supply of oxygen from the KP-55 life-support backpack
16-20 kilo-liters per minute
Operational span with KP-55 life-support backpack
30-45 minutes
Spacesuit mass
20 kilograms
Backpack mass
21.5 kilograms
Operational pressure inside the spacesuit (primary mode)
400 hectopascals

During 1964, a design bureau in Tomilino developed the 20-kilogram Berkut spacesuit with the 21.5 kilogram backpack oxygen-supply system KP-22 (where KP stood for kislorodny pribor – Russian for "oxygen apparatus"). The suit had a removable hard helmet and a three-layered main garment: an external structural layer and two sealing layers. On top, it also had an exterior layer with thermal protection. The white-colored exterior overalls could resist from 10 to 15 kilograms of mechanical pressure. The overalls were attached with laces to the rest of the spacesuit.

The backpack provided from 30 to 45 minutes worth of oxygen.

Pressure in the spacesuit was maintained at 0.4 atmosphere, which was a compromise number, enabling life support, while keeping the suit from becoming too hard. (71)


Next chapter: Training for the Voskhod-2 mission



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The article and photography by Anatoly Zak; Last update: March 20, 2020

Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: March 18, 2020

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Aleksei Leonov in his spacesuit helmet.


Overalls of Leonov's Berkut spacesuit worn during the world's first spacewalk. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2013 Anatoly Zak


The KP-55 life-support backpack for the Berkut spacesuit. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2013 Anatoly Zak