Wednesday, May 22, 2024

NASA unveils new spacesuit that astronauts will wear to explore the Moon

NASA has unveiled the first look of a new spacesuit developed by a company called Axiom Space at an event Wednesday. The spacesuit will be worn by NASA astronauts, including the first woman, on the surface of the Moon during the agency’s Artemis III mission to send humans back to Moon.

The new suits are designed to improve mobility for astronauts working on the lunar surface. It provides greater flexibility and protection from the harsh lunar environment, along with specialized tools to enable exploration of the Moon’s surface.

NASA’s Artemis III mission will land astronauts on the Moon to advance long-term lunar exploration and scientific discovery. The agency selected Axiom Space to deliver the moonwalking system, including the spacesuit, for the mission.

Called the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or AxEMU, the spacesuit prototype incorporates the latest technology, enhanced mobility, and added protection from hazards on the Moon. Though the prototype uses a dark gray cover material, the final version will likely be all-white when worn by NASA astronauts on the Moon’s surface to help keep the astronauts safe and cool while working in the harsh environment of space.

NASA established the foundation for the AxEMU with the agency’s Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) prototype development efforts that advanced spacesuit designs for multiple destinations. NASA astronauts have used the same basic spacesuit design since the Space Shuttle times, with the technology remaining essentially unchanged for all these years. The old suit design has proven itself for 40 years, but it is particularly limiting in terms of the range of movement it allows.

Axiom Space used the expertise and data behind the xEMU as a basis for the design and development of the AxEMU. The new spacesuit features the range of motion and flexibility needed to explore more of the lunar landscape. NASA experts defined the technical and safety standards by which the spacesuits will be built.

The new design has more joints, making it easier for astronauts to perform tasks like walking and picking things up from the ground. The new helmet has a light band over the helmet bubble for better vision and an HD video camera on the side to livestream videos back to Earth. The boots are well insulated to enable astronauts to work in cold temperatures found on the Moon’s south pole.

“NASA’s partnership with Axiom is critical to landing astronauts on the Moon and continuing American leadership in space. Building on NASA’s years of research and expertise, Axiom’s next-generation spacesuits will not only enable the first woman to walk on the Moon, but they will also open opportunities for more people to explore and conduct science on the Moon than ever before,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.