NASA reveals spacesuit for Artemis III moon surface mission

US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected Axiom Space to develop modern spacesuits for the first astronauts to explore near the lunar South Pole. The first prototype for the suits intended to be worn for the Artemis III mission were revealed at an event at Space Center Houston in Texas.

Called the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit or AxEMU, the spacesuit builds on NASA’s spacesuit prototype developments and incorporates the latest technology, enhanced mobility, and added protection from hazards at the moon, NASA said in a press release.

NASA chose to use a commercial services contract for development of the new spacesuit, whereby it purchased moonwalking services from Axiom Space. Under this model, the company is encouraged to pursue other commercial customers for their moonwalking services. This mutually beneficial approach helps bolster an emerging commercial market and grants NASA the right to use the data and technologies developed under the contract for future exploration efforts.

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. Axiom Space used the experience, expertise, and data behind the xEMU as a basis for the design and development of the AxEMU, including advancements in technology, training, astronaut feedback on comfort and manoeuvrability, and compatibility with other NASA systems. Leaning on NASA’s prior development efforts is helping Axiom Space reduce technical and schedule risk.

NASA experts defined the technical and safety standards by which the spacesuits will be built, and Axiom Space agreed to meet these key agency requirements. The AxEMU features the range of motion and flexibility needed to explore more of the lunar landscape, and the suit will fit a broad range of crew members, accommodating at least 90 percent of the US male and female population. Axiom Space will continue to apply modern technological innovations in life support systems, pressure garments, and avionics as development continues.

Axiom Space is responsible for the design, development, qualification, certification, and production of flight training spacesuits and support equipment, including tools, to enable the Artemis III mission. The company will test the suit in a spacelike environment prior to the mission. NASA maintains the authority for astronaut training, mission planning, and approval of the service systems.

Following Artemis III, the agency will compete future Artemis mission services under the Exploration Extravehicular Activity Services (xEVAS) contract. NASA is using the contract to meet the agency’s spacewalking needs for both the moon and the International Space Station. The agency recently awarded a task order to Collins Aerospace, who is also competing within the xEVAS contract, to develop new spacesuits for astronauts to wear during spacewalks on the space station. Both vendors will compete for future spacewalking and moonwalking services task orders, added the release.

“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.

“NASA is leading the way in enabling a growing space economy by leveraging industry capabilities and NASA’s expertise to provide moonwalking services as safely, effectively, and efficiently as possible,” said Lara Kearney, manager of NASA’s Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility programme.

Artemis III will land astronauts, including the first woman, on the moon to advance long-term lunar exploration and scientific discovery, and inspire the Artemis Generation.



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