NASA unveils next-generation spacesuit for next astronauts on the moon – National

What exactly does one wear to such a cherished occasion as walking on the moon?

It might seem like a small detail in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a pretty important factor in keeping astronauts cool, comfortable, and alive.

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A redesigned space suit was unveiled this week, showing off a sleek-looking prototype to officials, students and the media at NASA Space Center Houston in Texas.

NASA challenged Axiom Space to design a modern suit for the Artemis III mission, which will land astronauts, including the first woman, on the moon for the first time in more than half a century.

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The Artemis III spacesuit prototype AxEMU. Although this prototype uses a dark gray cover material, the final version will likely be all white when worn by NASA astronauts on the lunar surface to keep the astronauts safe and cool while working in the harsh environment of space.

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Axiom Space was tasked with designing the mission’s entire moonwalking system, including the suits, and its designers built on NASA’s prototype spacesuit, which “incorporates the latest technology, enhanced mobility, and added protection from lunar hazards.” , says a press release for the reading start.

According to their release, NASA defined the technical and safety standards for the suits and Axiom Space agreed to meet NASA’s requirements.

The prototype is said to be a better fit for astronauts, who have so far thwarted some missions due to lack of suits in their size. The existing space suits worn by US astronauts have not been completely redesigned since 1981.

In 2019, NASA had plans to send a team of female astronauts on a spacewalk from the International Space Station. However, in the days leading up to the mission, it became apparent that insufficient spacesuits of the correct size were available for both Anne McClain and Christina Koch, and McClain was replaced by her male colleague, Nick Hauge.

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NASA says a well-fitting suit is essential to providing oxygen at the right pressure for astronauts to survive in the near-vacuum of space. When the balance is upset, an astronaut’s lungs can expand rapidly and cause death.

Lara Kearney, manager of NASA’s space suit and rover team, told the crowd on Wednesday that these new suits will also allow for more flexibility and temperature regulation.

“The moon is a hostile place and the South Pole is going to be really challenging,” she said of the Artemis III mission, which is scheduled to launch in December 2025. “A lot of thermal requirements we want to improve mobility so our astronauts can work more efficiently.”

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Special joints have been sewn into the new suits to allow better freedom of movement and the helmet comes with built-in lights and an HD camera. Two hinges at the back of each suit allow astronauts to hang in feet first, and a backpack provides a portable life support system.

The boots have extra insulation to keep travelers’ feet nice and warm while working in the cold shade.

The Artemis III mission will be the first manned lunar landing since Apollo 17 landed in 1972, and it is poised to step foot on the moon as the first woman and first black person.

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The Artemis I mission, the first launch of NASA’s next-generation rocket and newly-built Orion spacecraft on an unmanned test flight around the moon and back, was successfully completed in December.

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NASA and the Canadian Space Agency will soon announce the four astronauts selected to fly on Artemis II, another out-and-back mission, as soon as next year.

If successful, Artemis III will continue.

Chief Engineer Jim Stein wears the new spacesuit during the Axiom Space Artemis III Lunar Spacesuit event at Space Center Houston in Houston, Texas on March 15, 2023.

Mark Felix / AFP via Getty Images

NASA chief Bill Nelson said the new spacesuits “will give more people than ever before the opportunity to explore the moon and do science on the moon.”

However, the suit unveiled this week isn’t an exact replica of what we’ll see on launch day. The charcoal paint, revealed this week, aims to protect the proprietary fabric used by Axiom from the public.

However, they revealed that suits worn at the moon’s south pole will likely be white, as it is the best color to protect against the harsh sunlight hitting the lunar surface, as well as the best color to protect the wearer from extreme heat.

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