Compression gaiters, elasticised nylon/metal, worn by Vladimir Titov, USSR, 1988
The actual designer is unknown, but it was presumably a doctor or medical technician at one of the medical research facilities associated with the Soviet space program, such as the Institute for Bio-Medical Problems. The gaiters were designed to assist in the alleviation of a specific medical problem, the development of varicose veins in the legs during prolonged periods of weightlessness. Their elastic nature puts pressure on the legs, simulating the effects of gravity and thus preventing swelling of the leg veins. The adjustable lacings allow the gaiters to be 'customised' for the best fit and also provide the capability to vary the pressure on the leg as required.
The gaiters are presumed to been made in one of the maunufacturing plants associated with the Soviet aerospace medicine program.
Cosmonaut Vladimir Titov wore these gaiters after he returned from his year-long mission on the Mir space station (Dec 21, 1987-Dec 22, 1988). While on board Mir, Titov would have used a similar pair of gaiters to prevent varicose veins, due to the microgravity environment. This pair was worn during Titov's post-spaceflight physical rehabilitation, to help prevent the same condition resulting from the effect of gravity on his debilitated leg muscles.
Vladimir Titov, colonel in Soviet Air Force. Commander of the Soyuz TM-4 mission, Titov spent 12 months on the Mir space station carrying out a range of scientific and engineering experiments and research. After returning to Earth he spent several months undergoing physical rehabilitation from the effects of his long duration flight. Titov later trained as a NASA Mission Specialist and made two space shuttle flights in connection with the Shuttle-Mir program, STS-63 (Feb 3-11, 1995) and STS-86 (Sept 25-Oct 6, 1997).
These items were part of Lot 299 at the Sotheby's New York space auction 16/3/96, consigned by Titov himself. A document in Russian, with English translation, signed by Titov, accompanies the gaiters and refers to his use of them.