Nasa has unveiled its spacesuit for the Artemis mission to the moon
When Nasa unveiled the Artemis III mission spacesuit – the suit that will be worn on humankind’s first mission to the moon in more than 50 years – it represented decades of space exploration and research.
The latest suit, designed by Axiom Space, has certainly moved on from the Michelin Man-like suits of Neil Armstrong’s day. Sporting a charcoal grey body with orange and blue detailing in the prototype, the Axiom extravehicular mobility unit, or AxEMU, is sleeker than its predecessors – but still a substantial outfit, capable of protecting astronauts from the icy vacuum of space. The suits worn by the Artemis III team will be white, like their predecessors, to help reflect sunlight.
The new suits allow wearers to walk long distances, are better fitted for women, and dust tolerant. Axiom said they also offer the ability to help an incapacitated crew member and return them to the landing craft.
Michelle Stein, AXPGS manager at Axiom, said: ‘All of the updates [to the latest spacesuit] are more of a revolution than an evolution.’
Nasa is planning to return humankind to the moon in 2025 with Artemis III, following the successful completion of Artemis I last year. The mission tested Nasa’s new Orion spacecraft on an unmanned mission around the moon and back – it is the only spacecraft capable of returning crews to Earth at lunar reentry velocities.
The hope for Artemis is that it will not only pave the way for longer explorations of the moon, but also help establish it as a launch pad for planetary explorations, starting with Mars.
Zach Paugh, an Axiom Space sewing tech, said: ‘It’s like a little bit of each of us is going up there with the astronauts, a little bit of our mentors, of our family – it’s more than just ourselves, it’s everyone before us, and everyone after us.’
Take a look back at those before Zach and the Artemis crew in our spacesuit gallery below.
- An extravehicular mobility unit (EMU) – a spacesuit worn outside the spacecraft – weighs about 120kg on Earth (but nothing in space)
- It takes about 45 minutes to put on an EMU
- Putting on an EMU is called ‘donning’ – removing it is called ‘doffing’
- Astronauts where different, lighter suits for entry and landing, designed only to be worn inside the spacecraft
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