The NASA astronauts headed to the Moon and beyond in the Artemis program will wear updated suits, and they look pretty slick. Axiom Space, a space contractor hired by the US government, has unveiled the first prototype of the new space suits at the Space Center Houston in Texas.
“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,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a news release.
Astronauts on the Artemis III mission to the moon will wear these suits, and as Nelson mentioned, the crew will include the first woman to walk on the moon. The final suit won’t look this way, though. NASA said on Twitter that the final version will probably be all-white to help astronauts stay “safe and cool.”
Great Q! Though this prototype uses a dark gray cover material, the final version will likely be all-white when worn to help keep astronauts safe and cool while working in the harsh environment of space.
— NASA’s Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) March 15, 2023
The suit is called the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unity, or AxEMU for short. According to NASA, in addition to looking very stylish, it “incorporates the latest technology, enhanced mobility, and added protection from hazards at the Moon.”
The new AxEMU suit offers astronauts better range of motion and flexibility to help them traverse the Moon. NASA said the suit has been designed to fit a “broad range of crew members,” noting that at least 90% of American men and women could fit into it.
Axiom Space will test the new suit in a “spacelike environment” before astronauts suit up and go to the Moon.
Also in the press release, NASA reiterated that its goal with the new Artemis program is to land the first women and person of color on the moon as part of a wider effort to create a “long-term, sustainable lunar presence” to explore the lunar surface. After that, NASA intends to send an astronaut to Mars.
NASA’s Artemis website also states that another facet of the Artemis program is to find out how to make money from the programs involving the Moon. “We’re going back to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new generation of explorers: the Artemis Generation,” NASA said. “While maintaining American leadership in exploration, we will build a global alliance and explore deep space for the benefit of all.”
NASA Artemis program began with the launch of the uncrewed Artemis I in November 2022 that orbited around the Moon but didn’t come down for a landing. Artemis II (November 2024) will take a crew of human astronauts to the Moon, but it won’t be until 2025’s Artemis III–if all goes to plan–that humans will land on the Moon to conduct further research. If all goes to plan, it will be first time since Apollo 17 in 1972 that humans visited the lunar surface.
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