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posted by martyb on Thursday February 05 2015, @01:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the grounded-in-practice dept.

James Simpson has an interesting story about the TP-82 survival weapon that Russian cosmonauts carried into space with them on missions between 1982 and 2006. The TP-82 was essentially a sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun with a short-barreled rifle added onto it. Having a gun inside a thin-walled spacecraft filled with oxygen sounds crazy, but the Soviets had their reasons. Much of Russia is desolate wilderness. A single mishap during descent could strand cosmonauts in the middle of nowhere.

In March 1965, cosmonaut Alexey Leonov landed a mechanically-faulty Voskhod space capsule in the snowy forests of the western Urals … 600 miles from his planned landing site. Getting through the ordeal would end up requiring a gun to ward off wild bears, some tricks to staying warm in below zero temperatures and cross country skiing. For protection, Leonov had a nine-millimeter pistol. He feared the bears and wolves that prowled the forest—though he never encountered any. But the fear stayed with him. Later in his career, Leonov made sure the Soviet military provided all its cosmonauts with a survival weapon. For the Soviets, the weapon was a case of “better safe than sorry,” and from 1986, it was a permanent fixture in the portable survival kits of every Soyuz mission. "Astronauts of all nationalities—including Americans—have trained with the TP-82," writes Simpson. "And still today, before they ride the Soyuz to space, they must complete a Russian survival training course in the Black Sea and the Siberian forest."

 
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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @07:58AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @07:58AM (#141439)

    I though for a moment perhaps the device was for extravehicular activities in case one was cut loose and started helplessly floating away from the space station. One could fire a gun away from the station and the recoil would proper them back to it.

    Maybe this space theme does work up our imagination! :)

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  • (Score: 2) by ticho on Thursday February 05 2015, @09:41AM

    by ticho (89) on Thursday February 05 2015, @09:41AM (#141445) Homepage Journal

    I thought the same thing at first, but don't these guns need air around them to fire? :)

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by damnbunni on Thursday February 05 2015, @11:16AM

      by damnbunni (704) on Thursday February 05 2015, @11:16AM (#141458) Journal

      No, ammunition will fire just fine in a vacuum. It contains oxidizers sufficient for the gunpowder to burn.

      Something like a black powder rifle wouldn't, but any reasonably modern (bullet/case/primer) round should fire just fine in space.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MrGuy on Thursday February 05 2015, @07:27PM

        by MrGuy (1007) on Thursday February 05 2015, @07:27PM (#141618)

        Why wouldn't black powder work? As I understand it, saltpeter is the oxidizer, not atmospheric O2.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06 2015, @02:35AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06 2015, @02:35AM (#141698)

          Examine a round carefully. Note it is hermetically sealed. Everything it needs to be fired is already inside.

        • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by aristarchus on Friday February 06 2015, @04:32AM

          by aristarchus (2645) on Friday February 06 2015, @04:32AM (#141726) Journal

          Yes, Blackpowder would work in space. Are you happy now? Darn Civil War Re-enactors will probably be on the Moon now.

          Besides: ballistics? Projectiles? Betrays gravity-well two dimensional thinking. Hi, Khan! Goodbye!

          --
          Die Republikkkanische Partei isst die weissvolken partei.
          • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Saturday February 07 2015, @03:22AM

            by aristarchus (2645) on Saturday February 07 2015, @03:22AM (#142124) Journal

            This was a direct response to MrGuy, to posts above!! How could it possibly be off-topic? Of course this post complaining about my post being modded "off-topic" is definintely off-topic. And just to point out, in the days of break-action firearms, a shotgun with a rifle barrel underneath was not all that uncommon. There are even muzzleloading versions. And for the same reasons, when you do not know what you will encounter, it is always good to be loaded for bear, and wolf, and deer, and rabbit or partridge. Or Xenomorphs.

            --
            Die Republikkkanische Partei isst die weissvolken partei.