On Wednesday, NASA unveiled the first prototype of the new generation space suits for the Artemis missions. Completely redesigned and specially made and equipped for the first astronauts who will venture back to the lunar surface in the coming years.
The bulky lunar suits worn by Neil Armstrong and his fellow Apollo astronauts half a century ago are decidedly outdated. Lunar haute couture now requires something more form-fitting and comfortable for men and women.
Axiom Space suits
The news was revealed at the Johnson Space Center in Houston during an event hosted for the media and students by Axiom Space. The Texas-based company is tasked by NASA to build the suits for the Artemis missions.
Artemis 1, the inaugural launch of NASA’s powerful new-generation rocket and its newly built Orion spacecraft on an uncrewed test flight around the moon and back, was successfully completed in December 2022. NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) plan to announce the four astronauts chosen to fly on Artemis 2, another round-trip mission, next year.
The flight, if successful, will pave the way for a planned Artemis 3 expedition of astronauts to the lunar surface, the first ever at the moon’s south pole. It will also be the first mission ever to see a woman walking on the surface of our satellite.
The program, named after Apollo’s twin in Greek mythology, aims to establish a lunar base as a launching pad for Mars exploration. NASA chief Bill Nelson said, “NASA’s new suits will open opportunities for more people to explore and conduct science on the moon”.
All 12 NASA astronauts who landed on the moon during the six Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972 were men. The suits worn on the moon by the Artemis astronauts will look very different from the bulky Apollo space suits. Called Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Units or AxEMU by Axiom, the new suits are slimmer and more flexible than the old Apollo suits. They ultimately allow for greater freedom of movement and variability in size and fit, designed to fit a wide range of potential wearers.
NASA says they can accommodate at least 90% of the male and female population in the United States. They will also be equipped with updated and modern life support systems. The final appearance of the suits, however, remains a trade secret, closely guarded. The one in the photo uses the colors of the manufacturing company as camouflage, complete with the Axiom logo. TThe company stated that the suits worn by astronauts will be white because it is the best color for reflecting sunlight on the lunar surface and protecting those who wear them from extreme heat.