NASA and Axiom Space unveil new Artemis moon missions spacesuit
NASA and private space firm Axiom Space have unveiled the spacesuit that future Artemis astronauts, including the first woman and first person of color to go to the moon, will wear.
The first Artemis astronaut mission, Artemis II, is slated to launch late next year. That mission will take a crew of astronauts around the moon and back. One year later, in 2025, NASA hopes to launch Artemis III, the first mission back to the lunar surface since Apollo 17 in 1972.
NASA has not had a new spacesuit since the suit was designed for the Space Shuttle. The new suit, designed by Axiom Space, was made to withstand the rigors of extended missions on the lunar south pole.
NASA's next-generation AxEMU spacesuit
In September last year, NASA announced it had picked Axiom Space to design and build the spacesuit for its upcoming Artemis astronauts. Today, March 15, during a live event hosted by Axiom Space at Space Center Houston in Texas, the two organizations unveiled the new spacesuit, called the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit (AxEMU).
It's worth noting that the suit shown off during the live event doesn't have the same color we'll eventually see astronauts wear to the lunar surface. The final suit for the Artemis II and Artemis III missions will have a white outer layer to reflect sunlight.
The custom cover layer seen during the event features Axiom Space's brand colors of orange, blue, and black. It was developed as part of a collaboration between Axiom Space and Esther Marquis, who is the costume designer for the alternative space race Apple TV show "For All Mankind".
A spacesuit designed for the lunar south pole
NASA has its sights set on sending astronauts to the lunar south pole for the first time for its Artemis III missions. This is because the location is known to be a rich source of underground ice, which can be mined for oxygen, water, and rocket propellant.
The mission will see astronauts travel further from their lunar lander than ever before. They will also be traveling more rugged terrain, meaning a suit that can handle the new mission parameters was required.
Axiom Space partnered with a team of industry experts to create the AxEMU, including KBR, Air-Lock, Arrow Science and Technology, David Clark Company, Paragon Space Development Corporation, Sophic Synergistics, and A-P-T Research.
The firm developed a spacesuit with more hinges than the extravehicular mobility unit (EMU) Space Shuttle-era suit, which is still currently used for spacewalks by International Space Station (ISS) crews. This makes it more mobile and flexible, and a better choice for Artemis III operations.
"We’re carrying on NASA’s legacy by designing an advanced spacesuit that will allow astronauts to operate safely and effectively on the Moon," said Michael T. Suffredini, Axiom Space President & CEO. "Axiom Space's Artemis III spacesuit will be ready to meet the complex challenges of the lunar south pole and help grow our understanding of the Moon in order to enable a long-term presence there."
You can watch the entire unveiling event, including a demo of the spacesuit's flexibility, in the video below.
This was a developing news story, and it was updated as new information emerged.
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