— NASA Artemis (@NASAArtemis) March 15, 2023
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On Wednesday, Nasa and the commercial aerospace company Axiom Space displayed a prototype of the next-generation spacesuit that astronauts would wear on the next Moon trip.
The suit shown at a presentation at the Johnson Space Center in Houston is more flexible and provides better thermal protection than those worn by the Apollo astronauts who were the first to walk on the moon’s surface more than fifty years ago.
The garment has numerous protective layers, a backpack with life support systems, and a bubble-shaped helmet equipped with lights and a high-definition video camera.
The US space agency’s Artemis mission seeks to return humans to the Moon in late 2025 for the first time since the famous Apollo missions concluded in 1972 as a precursor to a future journey to Mars.
Axiom Space was awarded a 228.5 million dollar contract to design the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit spacesuit for the Artemis III mission.
The chief engineer of Axiom Space, Jim Stein, stood on stage at the NASA facility wearing the spacesuit, executing squats and knee bends to demonstrate its range of motion.
Axiom Space stated that the spacesuit modelled by Stein required a black outer coat with blue and orange trim to “conceal the suit’s exclusive design.” The final version will be the usual white colour used to reflect heat and shield astronauts from extreme lunar temperatures.
The suit has a “portable life support system” backpack, as described by Axios Space. Russell Ralston, assistant program manager for extravehicular activity at Axiom Space, remarked, “Inside this box are all the bits and components necessary for your survival.”
You can think of it as a scuba tank, and air conditioner merged into a single unit. The suit is supposed to be worn for a maximum of eight hours.
It has numerous layers, including a bladder layer that keeps the air within the spacesuit like a balloon and a restraining layer that helps it maintain its shape.
The outer layer is designed to be tear- and dust-resistant, while the insulating layer protects the astronauts against the extreme temperature variations on the Moon.
The spacesuits themselves will be white to deflect heat and keep astronauts cool. NASA will get training spacesuits from Axiom by the end of the summer, the business stated in a press release.
NASA will land the first woman and person of colour on the moon using the Artemis spacecraft. In addition, they will pave the way for a permanent presence on the moon and, ultimately, human exploration of Mars.
The launch of Artemis III is anticipated for 2025.