In space, moon suits are the height of fashion, and NASA officials on Wednesday praised what astronauts will wear when they step on the surface of the moon in the years to come.
The newest lunar space outfit — black with orange and blue accents — comes from Axiom Space in Houston.
At an event in Houston unveiling the new suit, an engineer from Axiom who was demonstrating the lunar gear demonstrated how it could easily squat and move. The large, conspicuous bubble around the head provides a wide view as well as illumination, which will be important when astronauts step into the shadowed craters near the moon’s south pole. It also has an HD camera mount.
Astronauts enter and exit the spacesuit through a hatch in the back side.
“You can put your feet up, put your arms in, and then kind of put the suit on,” said Russell Ralston, deputy director of EVA program at Axiom Space. “And then we’ll close the hatch.”
On the back is a backpack-like device that contains a life support system. “You can think of it as a scuba tank and a very fancy air conditioner, kind of rolled into one,” Mr. Ralston said.
The main difference between the prototype shown today and what will go to the moon is that those who go to the moon will be white instead of dark. “It’s really for thermal reasons,” said Mr. Ralston.
By going private, NASA is once again relying on new commercial space companies to supply key components faster and cheaper than they themselves can develop.
This approach follows the model used by NASA in hiring Elon Musk’s SpaceX to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and to the lunar surface for the mission for which the Axiom suits were designed.
The moon suit is a key component required for the Artemis program, which will send astronauts to the moon as NASA faces stiff competition in space and on the moon from China’s burgeoning space sector. The Axiom suits will be worn during the Artemis III mission, the program’s first moon landing, scheduled for 2025.
Axiom is led by Michael Suffredini, who previously served as NASA Program Manager for the International Space Station. The company has focused primarily on low Earth orbit, sending private astronauts to the International Space Station and building a private module to add to the space station.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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