July 23, 2024

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NASA unveils the next-generation spacesuit for the Artemis III lunar surface mission

NASA unveils the next-generation spacesuit for the Artemis III lunar surface mission

Credit: Axiom Space

when[{” attribute=””>NASA sends the first astronauts to explore near the lunar South Pole, moonwalkers will wear spacesuits provided by Axiom Space. NASA selected the company to develop the modern suits for the Artemis III mission and participated in activities when the first prototype was revealed Wednesday during an event at Space Center Houston in Texas.

Helping take a step forward in the agency’s goal to build a robust economy at the Moon by working with commercial service providers, Axiom Space hosted the event for students and media to ask questions and get a close-up look at the spacesuit.

AxEMU Artemis III Spacesuit Prototype

The Artemis III spacesuit prototype, the AxEMU. Though this 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. Credit: Axiom Space

“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. “Our partnership is investing in America, supporting America’s workers, and demonstrating another example of America’s technical ingenuity that will position NASA and the commercial space sector to compete – and win – in the 21st century.”

When astronauts return to the moon for the first time in more than 50 years as part of NASA’s Artemis III mission, they’ll don Axiom Space’s next-generation space suit to walk on the surface of the moon. Credit: Axiom Space

Artemis III will land astronauts, including the first woman, on the moon to advance long-term lunar exploration and scientific discoveries, and inspire the Artemis generation. NASA chose Axiom Space to provide the moonwalk system, including the spacesuit, for the mission. Called the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or AxEMU, the suit builds on developments from NASA’s spacesuit prototype and incorporates cutting-edge technology, enhanced mobility, and additional protection from hazards on the moon.

NASA chose to use a commercial services contract to develop the new spacesuit, with NASA purchasing moonwalk services from Axiom Space. Under this model, the company is encouraged to pursue other commercial clients for moonwalk services. This mutually beneficial approach helps foster the emerging commercial market and gives NASA the right to use the data and technologies developed under the contract for future exploration efforts.

AxEMU space helmet

Credit: Axiom Space

“NASA is leading the way in enabling the growing space economy by leveraging industry capabilities and NASA expertise to deliver lunar walks as safely, effectively, and efficiently as possible,” said Lara Kearney, NASA Program Manager for Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility.

NASA established the groundwork for AxEMU with the agency’s Expeditionary Extravehicle Mobility Unit (xEMU) prototype development effort that delivers spacesuit designs for multiple destinations. Axiom Space used the expertise, experience, and data behind xEMU as the basis for the design and development of AxEMU, including advances in technology, training, and astronaut feedback on comfort and maneuverability, and compatibility with other NASA systems. Building on past NASA development efforts helps Axiom Space reduce technical risks and schedule.

Axiom AxEMU space suit details

Credit: Axiom Space

NASA experts have defined the technical and safety standards by which space suits will be built, and Axiom Space has agreed to meet these key agency requirements. The AxEMU has the range of motion and flexibility needed to explore more of the lunar landscape, and the suit will fit a wide variety of crew members, accommodating at least 90 percent of the male and female population of the United States. Axiom Space will continue to apply recent technological innovations in life support systems, compression garments, and avionics as development continues.

Axiom Space is responsible for the design, development, qualification, certification, and production of flight training space suits and support equipment, including instruments, to enable the Artemis III mission. The company will test the suit in a space-like environment ahead of the mission. NASA retains authority for astronaut training, mission planning, and approval of service systems.

Axiom AxEMU Spacesuit Gloves

Credit: Axiom Space

After Artemis III, the agency will compete for future Artemis mission services under the Extravehicular Exploration Services (xEVAS) contract. NASA uses the contract to meet the agency’s spacewalk needs for both the Moon and the International Space Station. The agency recently awarded a mission order to Collins Aerospace, which is also competing under the xEVAS contract, to develop new spacesuits for astronauts to wear during spacewalks on the space station. Both vendors will compete for orders for future spacewalks and moonwalks.

Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the moon, paving the way for a long-term, sustainable presence on the lunar surface to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before and prepare for future astronaut missions to Mars.

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