NASA unveils next-generation spacesuit for Artemis III Moon Surface Mission

Credit: Axiom Space

When NASA sending the first astronauts to explore near the moon’s 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 as the first prototype was unveiled Wednesday during an event at Space Center Houston, Texas.

To help take a step forward in the agency’s goal of building a robust economy on the Moon by working with commercial service providers, Axiom Space hosted the event where students and media could ask questions and get a close-up view of the spacesuit.

AxEMU Artemis III space suit prototype

Artemis III space suit 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 surface of the Moon 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 invests in America, supports America’s workers, and demonstrates another example of America’s engineering ingenuity that will position NASA and the commercial space sector to compete — and win — in the 21st century.St century.”

When astronauts return to the Moon for the first time in over 50 years as part of NASA’s Artemis III mission, they will be wearing Axiom Space’s next-generation spacesuit for walking on the lunar surface. Credit: Axiom Space

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. NASA selected Axiom Space to provide the moonwalking system, including the space suit, for the mission. Called the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or AxEMU, the spacesuit builds on NASA’s prototype spacesuit development and incorporates the latest technology, improved mobility and added protection against lunar hazards.

NASA chose to use a commercial service contract for the development of the new space suit, whereby NASA purchases moonwalking services from Axiom Space. Under this model, the company is encouraged to pursue other commercial clients for its moonwalking services. This mutually beneficial approach helps strengthen a burgeoning commercial market and gives NASA the right to use the data and technologies developed under the contract for future exploration efforts.

Axiom AxEMU space suit helmet

Credit: Axiom Space

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

NASA established the foundation for AxEMU with the agency’s Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) prototype development effort, which advanced spacesuit designs for multiple destinations. Axiom Space used the experience, expertise and data behind xEMU to inform the design and development of AxEMU, including advances in technology, training, astronaut feedback on comfort and maneuverability, and compatibility with other NASA systems. Leaning on NASA’s past development efforts helps Axiom Space reduce technical and schedule risks.

Axiom AxEMU space suit detail

Credit: Axiom Space

NASA experts defined the technical and safety standards to which the spacesuits will be built, and Axiom Space agreed to meet these key agency requirements. AxEMU has the range of motion and flexibility needed to explore more of the lunar landscape, and the suit will fit a wide range of crew members and accommodate at least 90 percent of the American male and female population. Axiom Space will continue to employ modern technological innovations in life support systems, pressure suits 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 space-like environment ahead of the mission. NASA maintains authority for astronaut training, mission planning, and approval of the service systems.

Axiom AxEMU space suit gloves

Credit: Axiom Space

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

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

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