NASA and Axiom Space unveil new spacesuit for Artemis III lunar mission

NASA and Houston-based aerospace company Axiom Space gave CBS News the first look at the spacesuit astronauts will wear on the Artemis III mission, the first lunar landing in NASA’s program that returns astronauts to the moon. The suit was officially unveiled at an event in Houston on Wednesday.

Compared to the bulky and inflexible Apollo suits that caused astronauts to fall over while walking on the moon, the new suits are designed to be more mobile, said Russell Ralston, deputy EVA program manager at Axiom Space.

“This suit is going to be a lot easier to put on or do a lot of the same tasks they did in Apollo, and more, but to do it in a little easier way,” Ralston said.

The space suit redesign covers everything from top to bottom. The new helmet offers better visibility and the boots are special designed for moonwalkingcomplete with thermal insulation suitable for the south pole of the moon.

/ Credit: CBS News

To prepare the suit for the 2025 landing, Axiom Space and NASA will fine-tune and evaluate the suit through testing at Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, where part of a 40-foot-deep pool was transformed into a lunar landscape.

“It will give us a very good indication of how mobile the suit is and what kind of fatigue, if anything, crew members will feel after working for six or seven hours,” said Lara Kearney, who oversees the program at NASA. and ensures that Axiom meets the requirements.

Ralston said the final suits are close to the final version with one significant difference: color. The outer layer will be white and made of Mylar and Kevlar for the mission, which will take astronauts to a part of the moon where craters are home to some of the coldest temperatures in the solar system.

“Entering a permanently shaded region on the moon is something that has never been done before, from nothing,” Ralston said.

    / Credit: CBS News

/ Credit: CBS News

NASA outsourced the project to Axiom after 15 years of developing their next-generation lunar suit. The company has adapted over half of the original NASA design.

According to Peggy Whitson, director of human spaceflight at Axiom and a former NASA astronaut who spent more time in space than any other American, the spacesuit is the first to be specifically designed to fit a woman.

The 21st century space suit is made using advanced technologies, such as laser cutters that precisely cut various fabrics and 3D printers that create components, resulting in cost and time savings. However, some components are still assembled using traditional sewing machines.

In space, dressing for success is all about survival.

“I go to church with the astronauts. We see them when we shop. We know their children,” Ralston said. “The product you’re making, their life is going to depend on it. So, that’s something we take very seriously.”

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