The large, bloated spacesuits worn by Neil Armstrong and his fellow Apollo astronauts half a century ago are now out of fashion. Lunar Haute Couture is now calling for something a little more form-fitting and suitable for both men and women. NASA has revealed an early prototype of the next generation of spacesuits for the first astronauts expected to return to the lunar surface in the coming years.
The space suit was presented at the Johnson Space Center in Houston (USA), to the media and students, in a session organized by the Texas-based Axiom Space Company, which NASA has contracted to manufacture Artemis suits, the successor to the Apollo program.
The Artemis 1 mission, the inaugural launch of NASA’s powerful new rocket and its newly built Orion spacecraft, achieved a successful unmanned flight around the Moon and back to Earth in December.
NASA and the Canadian Space Agency plan to announce the four astronauts selected to fly next year on the Artemis 2 mission. If successful, the flight will pave the way for astronauts ending a decade to the lunar surface, Artemis 3 — the first-ever mission to the lunar south pole. .
NASA promises that subsequent Artemis missions will include the first non-white people on the moon. The program, named after Apollo’s sister in Greek mythology, ultimately aims to create a sustainable lunar base as a staging post for future human missions to Mars.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson says the new spacesuits “will provide opportunities for more people to explore and do science on the moon like never before.”
The 12 NASA astronauts who walked on the Moon on the six Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972 were all white men.
The suits worn by Artemis astronauts will look very different from the bulky spacesuits she wore last year. Promoted by Axiom as the “Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit,” or AxEMU, the new suits are more agile and flexible than those of the Apolo program, with greater range of motion and versatility in size and fit. It is designed to serve a wide range of potential users, NASA said, and accommodates at least 90% of the male and female population of the United States. They will also integrate advances in life support systems, compression garments, and avionics.
However, the latter aspect of the facts remains a closely guarded secret. The figure shown has a charcoal gray outer shell with orange and blue accents and the Axiom logo on the box. But the company says the suit worn by astronauts at the moon’s south pole will be white, because that’s the best color to reflect the intense sunlight on the lunar surface and protect the wearer from extreme heat.
Axiom says it has teamed up with designer Esther Marquis, who participated in the TV series for all mankindproduced by Apple TV+, was used to cover the event using the Axiom logo and the company’s trademark colours.
However, the Texas company’s tag isn’t the only tag Artemis astronauts will use for years to come. NASA also hired Collins Aerospace, of Charlotte, North Carolina (USA), as a competitor in building spacesuits for use on the Moon and during spacewalks outside the International Space Station.
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