NASA is giving up the big white suits used by Neil Armstrong and his fellow Apollo astronauts half a century ago, so future moonwalking astronauts will have sleeker, more flexible spacesuits.The first prototype of a brand-new, next-generation spacesuit was unveiled by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States on Wednesday. This suit has been specially tailored and equipped for the first astronauts who are anticipated to return to the Moon’s surface in the coming years.
At an event organized by Axiom Space for the press and students, the futuristic moon-wear was on exhibit at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA gave the Texas-based business a $228.5 million contract to produce the Artemis spacecraft’s suits. Artemis is NASA’s replacement for the Apollo Moon program. As a first step toward a potential trip to Mars, the Artemis program seeks to send people back to the Moon for the first time since the famous Apollo missions concluded in 1972 in late 2025.
The new suits, branded “Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit” or simply “AxEMU” by Axiom, are more streamlined and flexible than the previous Apollo suits, offering a wider range of motion and better size and fit flexibility. A high-definition video camera mounted on top of the bubble-shaped helmet, a backpack with life-support equipment and lighting, and many protective layers are all part of the pressurized garment.
The “next generation space suits will not only allow the first woman to walk on the Moon, but they will also provide chances for more people to explore and conduct science on the Moon than ever before,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said. The new suits will undergo testing in a “spacelike environment” before being used for the Moon mission, according to a statement from NASA. The portable life support system of the suit has “all the pieces and the components to keep you alive,” according to Russell Ralston, deputy program manager for extravehicular activity at Axiom Space.
You may imagine it as a very fancy air conditioner and dive tank combined, according to Ralston. According to NASA, the new suits, which can be worn for up to eight hours at a time, will fit a wide range of users and can accommodate at least 90% of both the male and female populations. But the exact design of the costumes remained a well kept trade secret. In order to conceal Axiom’s patented outer fabric design, those on exhibit on Wednesday had an exterior layer that was charcoal gray with splotches of orange and blue as well as the company’s emblem on the breast.
According to the manufacturer, white suits will be worn by astronauts on the lunar south pole because it reflects the harsh sunlight on the Moon’s surface the best and shields the wearer from the intense heat. The new suit, according to director of the Johnson Space Center Vanessa Wyche, “has more utility, more performance, and more capability” than the bulky one used by Apollo astronauts. Since the suits we created for the space shuttle, which are still in use on the space station, we have not had a new suit, according to Wyche. Hence, based on that technology, we have been utilizing the same outfit for 40 years.