NASA and Axiom Space unveil Moon-bound Artemis III spacesuit
Last year, we heard how NASA had awarded a service contract to Axiom Space for the design and production of the agency's Artemis III spacesuit. NASA and Axiom have now unveiled a prototype of the outfit.
Revealed this Wednesday (Mar. 15) during Space Center Houston’s Moon 2 Mars Festival, the spacesuit is known as the AxEMU (Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit). It builds upon NASA's earlier xEMU concept, which like the AxEMU was designed primarily for use on the lunar surface.
And no, the finished product won't be black.
The current prototype is covered with dark gray fabric to conceal a proprietary white material which will reflect heat and protect astronauts from extreme high temperatures – near the lunar equator, daytime temps get up to 120 ºC (248 ºF). That said, the Artemis III mission is aimed at landing astronauts near the much chillier lunar south pole, in 2025.
Although few technical details have been provided, NASA stated that "the AxEMU features the range of motion and flexibility needed to explore more of the lunar landscape, and the suit will fit a broad range of crew members, accommodating at least 90% of the US male and female population." The suit is also designed to withstand damage from lunar dust, which has been a big problem on previous Moon missions.
Plans call for Axiom to deliver a full fleet of training spacesuits to NASA, by late this summer (Northern Hemisphere).
"NASA’s partnership with Axiom is critical to landing astronauts on the Moon and continuing American leadership in space," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "Building on NASA’s years of research and expertise, Axiom’s next generation spacesuits will not only enable the first woman to walk on the Moon, but they will also open opportunities for more people to explore and conduct science on the Moon than ever before."