NASA has developed new and improved spacesuits that will be worn by astronauts during the upcoming Artemis mission, which aims to return humans to the Moon by late 2025.
These sleeker and more flexible suits are a departure from the puffy white suits worn by Neil Armstrong and other Apollo astronauts more than 50 years ago. On Wednesday, NASA unveiled the first prototype of these next-generation spacesuits, which have been designed specifically for the first astronauts expected to explore the Moon’s surface in the coming years.
Axiom Space, a Texas-based company, hosted an event for the media and students at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to showcase the new spacesuits developed for NASA’s Artemis program.
Axiom Space was awarded a $228.5 million contract to manufacture the suits, which are intended for use in the upcoming mission to the Moon. The Artemis program is aimed at returning humans to the Moon by late 2025, with the ultimate goal of eventually launching a mission to Mars.
The new suits called the “Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit” or AxEMU for short, are more streamlined, flexible, and have a wider range of motion than the old Apollo suits. The suits have multiple layers of protection, a backpack containing life-support systems, and a bubble-shaped helmet with a high-definition video camera and lights mounted on top.
The “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,” NASA’s administrator Bill Nelson said.
“Inside of this box are all the parts and the components to keep you alive,” Russell Ralston, deputy program manager for extravehicular activity at Axiom Space, said of the suit’s “portable life support system”.
“You can think of it as like a very fancy scuba tank and air conditioner kind of combined into one,” Ralston said.