NASA and Axiom unveil spacesuits astronauts will wear on the moon

Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news about fascinating discoveries, scientific advancements and more.


NASA and Texas-based company Axiom Space have unveiled a new spacesuit design — the very ones that could end up being worn by the first woman and a person of color on the moon.

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

Unveiled in black with blue and orange detailing, the new design offers a very different aesthetic than the puffy white suits worn by 20th-century moon walkers. However, Axiom Space noted in a release that its spacesuits are covered with an additional layer — with the company’s colors and logo — for display purposes.

AxEMU spacesuit Axiom Space released images on Wednesday.

The actual spacesuits worn by astronauts must be white “to reflect heat and protect astronauts from extreme heat,” the release said.

“We haven’t had a new spacesuit since the one we designed for the space shuttle and the one we currently use on the space station,” said Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Have been using the same suit based on this technology. Now Axiom will innovate. We will provide (access to) all of our facilities and we will work together to make sure we have a safe suit, and our astronauts Everything for ground operations.”

The suits will play a key role in NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the lunar surface later this decade on a mission called Artemis III. After the astronauts land on the south pole of the moon, the spacesuit will serve as a mobile life support and explore the lunar terrain on foot.

“NASA’s partnership with Axiom is critical to sending astronauts to the Moon and maintaining America’s leadership in space,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “Building on NASA’s years of research and expertise, Axiom’s next-generation spacesuit will not only put the first woman on the moon, but will also give more people the opportunity to explore and conduct science on the moon than ever before. Our partnership is investing in America, supporting American workers, and demonstrating another example of American technological ingenuity that will enable NASA and the commercial space sector to compete and win in the 21st century.”

Axiom Space holds a contract to develop spacesuits for NASA's Artemis program, and has its logo and company colors printed on the top cover of the suit.

The design of the spacesuit draws on NASA’s own research.The space agency has previously Prototype design for lunar spacesuit revealed in 2019called xEMU.

“Leveraging NASA’s Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) suit design, the Axiom Space suit is designed to provide increased flexibility, better protection against harsh environments, and specialized tools to meet exploration needs and expand scientific opportunity,” the company said in a news release. “Using innovative technologies, the new spacesuit will allow exploration of more of the lunar surface than ever before.”

According to NASA, the new suit has greater range of motion and flexibility and is designed to accommodate at least 90 percent of U.S. men and women. Axiom Space will develop, certify and produce the spacesuit, which the company will “test in a space-like environment prior to mission execution.”

The suit features an HD camera and a light strip that mounts to the helmet’s visor. Russel Ralston, deputy project manager for Axiom Space, said the band of light would provide astronauts with better visibility when working in the permanently shadowed region at the south pole of the moon or during spacewalks.

There is a hatch with two hinges on the back of the spacesuit. The astronaut can enter the spacesuit with his feet first and then swing into it. The backpack provides a portable life support system. The boots are reinforced with extra insulation to keep the astronauts’ feet warm as they work in icy regions of the moon where the sun never sees.

“This is a great example of what innovation can do,” said retired NASA astronaut and current Axiom astronaut Peggy Whitson. “It would be a more flexible spacesuit, and the range of motion would really improve the astronauts’ ability to do all the missions they’re going to do on the surface of the moon and eventually on Mars.”

Whitson, who holds the record for the longest time spent in space by an American and a woman — a total of 665 days — is Axiom’s director of human spaceflight and is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station aboard Axiom’s Ax-2 in May.

Developing new spacesuits that would allow astronauts to survive on the moon is a multi-year effort at NASA.At some point in 2021, space agency Inspector General Paul Martin warned that major delays in the introduction of new spacesuits would cancel NASA’s goal Land humans on the moon by 2024. The space agency has delayed manned moon landings until no earlier than 2025.

Martin concluded at the time that the lawsuits were “years away from completion” and would cost more than $1 billion.

Subsequently, NASA announced that it would allow the private sector to take over the production of spacesuits, and the space agency selected Axiom Space as a contractor September 2022The deal, dubbed NASA’s xEVAS contract, is worth as much as $3.5 billion.

“We continue NASA’s legacy by designing an advanced spacesuit that enables astronauts to operate safely and efficiently on the Moon,” Axiom Space CEO Mike Suffredini said in a statement, who has worked for NASA for 30 years. for many years. “Axiom Space’s Artemis III spacesuit will be ready to meet the complex challenges of the lunar south pole and help advance our understanding of the Moon for an extended stay there.”

Suffredini was NASA’s Program Manager for the International Space Station from 2005 to 2015.

Source link

Leave a Comment