Russian Spacesuit Redesigned to Prevent Wearers From Taking That Good Luck Pee

Sokol-M spacesuit prototype 12 photos
Photo: Sergei Bobylev / Tass /
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A decades-long tradition with Russian cosmonauts and astronauts could soon come to an end, with the introduction of the new spacesuit to be worn during during launches to ISS on Soyuz.
The new prototype suit, Sokol-M, was introduced this week. It was created by aerospace firm Zvezda and it features one major change to the older version: the zipper is now diagonally placed, instead of the V-shaped that allowed easy access to the crotch area. That change may have been made specifically to put an end to the aforementioned tradition, which sees male wearers stop to pee on the tire of the bus that takes them to the launch pad, The Guardian informs.

The traditionw as started back in 1961 when Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, stopped to relieve himself by the side of the bus. Since then, astronauts and cosmonauts have been doing this every time they prepare for launch, and they believed it would bring them good luck. Even women have joined in, though they have no use for the V-shaped zippers: instead, they would bring vials with their urine, to splash it on the tire.

“I’m not sure how they will be able to [carry on the tradition], since we haven’t designed the fly,”
the Zvezda director, Sergei Pozdnyakov, says about the new spacesuit. “We have the design specifications. They don’t state that it’s necessary to pee on the wheel. The design specifications would need to be adapted.”

In addition to the diagonally-placed zipper, the new suit makes the use of the internal rubberized layer known as “the bladder” redundant, since all zippers and seams are airtight. This means it will be easier for the wearer to slip in and out of the Sokol-M, as compared to the currently-used suit.

As for the end of the good luck pee tradition, astronauts really don’t have reasons to worry. As the same publication notes, “Soyuz launches are full of rituals in which cosmonauts plant trees at Baikonur, get haircuts, watch the classic Soviet film White Sun of the Desert and have an Orthodox priest sprinkle holy water on them.” They still have plenty to choose from.
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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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