A next-generation spacesuit has been unveiled by NASA for future ISS and Artemis missions.
The suits will be provided by Axiom Space, a private space infrastructure developer, in partnership with Collins Aerospace, an aerospace and defense products supplier.
Collins officials said they are opting for a modern, sportier vibe for next-generation spacewear.
The cosmonaut outfit will also be designed to fit a variety of body types — specifically, women at the 5th percentile for height and men at the 95th percentile, NASA said.
“When we get to the moon, we’ll have our first person of color and our first woman to wear and use these suits in space,” said Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
In a separate press release in late May, NASA demanded that the new suits allow humans “to explore the lunar surface and unlock new spacewalking capabilities outside of the International Space Station.”
They called it “an essential part of advancing human exploration in space and demonstrating continued American leadership.”
In total, NASA’s two contracts with Axiom and Collins Aerospace could be worth around $3.5 billion through 2034.
The spacesuits should be ready for testing on the International Space Station (ISS) within a few years.
By choosing to work with Axiom and Collins, NASA is once again turning to private space companies for task completion.
Axiom Space, for example, has been chosen to build a commercial space station that should one day replace the ISS.
And Elon Musk’s SpaceX has, on several occasions, flown NASA crews to the ISS.
“We have a number of customers who would like to do a spacewalk already, and we had planned to build a suit as part of our program,” said Mike Suffredini, President and CEO of Axiom.
“And so it’s fantastic to have a partnership where we can benefit from NASA’s years of experience.”
Along the road…
NASA has been working on the spacesuit technology for 15 years, spending around $420 million as of 2021 on the project, according to an official report.
The report notes that the spacesuits aboard the International Space Station “exceeded their lifespan by more than 25 years, requiring costly maintenance to keep astronauts safe.”
NASA’s current suits have been “the agency’s workhorse for 40 years” and have been worn on 169 spacewalks, said Dina Centella, NASA’s space station operations integration manager. The NASA.
Centella added that “spacesuit technology, of course, at 40 years old, is aging now, and so we would like to try new future technologies.”
Mission Artemis Moon
The Artemis program was launched by NASA in December 2017 and aims to return humans to the Moon by 2025.
Two of the program’s short-term goals are to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.