NASA and Axiom present the space suits that astronauts will wear on the Moon

axiom space suits moon

() — NASA and the Texas company Axiom Space have unveiled a new spacesuit design, which could be worn by the first woman and first person of color to set foot on the moon.

The spacesuits unveiled by Axiom Space on Wednesday are prototypes, though the company says it will deliver spacesuits that can be used for astronaut training by late summer. The company won a contract last year to make the suits for NASA.

The new design, black in color with blue and orange accents, seems to have a very different aesthetic than the white suits worn by 20th-century astronauts. However, Axiom Space noted in a press release that their suits are covered by an additional layer, bearing the company’s colors and logo, for display purposes.

The actual spacesuits worn by astronauts must be white “to reflect heat and protect astronauts from extremely high temperatures,” according to the statement.

The suits will play a crucial role in NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the lunar surface later this decade in a mission dubbed Artemis III. After the astronauts touch down on the lunar surface, the spacesuits will serve as mobile life support, allowing them to explore the lunar terrain on foot.

Axiom Space, which is contracted to develop the spacesuits for NASA’s Artemis Program, included its logo and company colors on a top cover over the spacesuits. Credit: Axiom Space

The design of the space suits is inspired by NASA’s own research. The space agency had previously unveiled a design prototype for lunar spacesuits in 2019, called xEMU.

“Leveraging NASA’s Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) spacesuit design, Axiom Space’s spacesuits are built to provide greater flexibility, greater protection to withstand the harsh environment, and specialized tooling to meet exploration needs and expand scientific opportunities,” the company said in a press release. “Utilizing innovative technologies, the new spacesuit will allow more of the lunar surface to be explored than ever before.”

Developing new space suits capable of keeping astronauts alive on the Moon has been a years-long effort at NASA. At one point in 2021, the space agency’s inspector general, Paul Martin, warned that significant delays in the development of new spacesuits would defeat NASA’s goal of landing humans on the moon by 2024. The space agency has already delayed the crewed moon landing until 2025.

Martin then concluded that the suits were “years away” and would cost more than $1 billion.

So NASA announced that it would allow the private sector to take over production of the spacesuits, and the space agency selected Axiom Space as the contractor. in september 2022. The deal, dubbed the NASA xEVAS contract, was valued at up to $3.5 billion.

“We are continuing NASA’s legacy by designing an advanced spacesuit that will allow astronauts to operate safely and effectively on the Moon,” said Axiom Space CEO Mike Suffredini, who previously worked at NASA for more than 30 years, in a statement. “Axiom Space’s Artemis III spacesuit will be ready to meet the complex challenges of the lunar south pole and help further our understanding of the Moon in order to enable a long-term presence there.”

Suffredini was director of NASA’s International Space Station Program from 2005 to 2015.

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Written by Editor TLN

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