Future American astronauts who walk on the moon will do so in sleeker, more flexible spacesuits thanks to NASA. The agency decision to do away with the bulky white suits Neil Armstrong and his fellow Apollo astronauts wore 50 years ago.
The first prototype of a brand-new next-generation spacesuit, custom-fitted and equipped for the first astronauts anticipated to return to the Moon’s surface in the coming years, was unveiled by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Wednesday.
The futuristic moon-wear was on exhibit at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, hosted by Axiom Space for media and student. NASA granted the Texas-based business a $228.5 million contract to produce the Artemis spacecraft’s suits. Artemis is NASA’s follow-on Moon program to Apollo.
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, dubbed “Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit” or simply “AxEMU” by Axiom, are more streamlined and flexible. They also offer a wider range of motion and better size and fit flexibility.
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The “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 said in a statement that the new suits would be tested in a “spacelike environment” prior to their use for the Moon mission.
The suit is designed to be worn for up to eight hours at a time. It will fit a broad range of potential wearers; accommodating at least 90 percent of the US male and female population.