NASA is returning humanity to the Moon for the first time in over 50 years, but this time powered by the growing commercial space industry. To walk on the Moon, you need a few essential tools to survive. One of those was unveiled today – a space suit.
First EVA spacesuit designed in 40 years
Not to be confused with IVA (intravehicular activity) spacesuits or flight suits, the suit you see astronauts wear inside spacecraft during launch, EVA (extravehicular activity) spacesuits are designed to be worn outside of the vehicle on spacewalks or, in this case, on the Moon’s surface. Made by Axiom Space, a company building its own space station and launching private crews to the International Space Station, they will have the honor of their suit being used on Artemis 3, the first crewed lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972.
The current EVA suit, the Extravehicular Mobility Unit, was designed for use on the Space Shuttle in the 1980s and has been used since on the ISS. Before this suit, NASA used a modified version of the Apollo spacesuit used to walk on the Moon’s surface for EVAs.
This suit will differ from previous EVA suits as it will not be owned by NASA but by Axiom Space, which has a contract for EVA operations for Artemis. So while NASA will remain in control of moonwalks, Axiom will deliver and maintain the suits.
Apple TV+’s For All Mankind design help
Axiom shared in its announcement that the outer cover of the suit was designed by the day one Apple TV+ show For All Mankind costume designer Esther Marquis. The show follows an alternate history where the Soviet Union landed on the Moon first, not the US. Season 4 of the show is supposed to come out sometime later this year.
The design incorporates three colors – orange, blue, and black. Axiom stated during an unveiling event that the biggest change between this cover and the suit used on the Moon is the black portions will be white. While a black suit looks great, it is not practical on the Moon as it will absorb too much heat. White suits, used for Apollo and the Space Shuttle/ISS, are much better are reflecting heat and keeping the astronauts inside comfortable.
State of the Artemis 2 and 3 missions
Axiom’s suits will fly on Artemis 3, the first crewed landing on the Moon of the program. First, Artemis 2 will have to fly and will be the first crewed flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket. The Core Stage and Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (second stage) for Artemis 2 are in final assembly at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and ULA’s faculty in Decatur, Alabama. The segments of SLS’ two solid rocket boosters for the rocket are built and awaiting transport to Kennedy Space Center in Florida from Utah later this year.
For Artemis 3, both stages are currently still under construction, with its booster segments also completed and awaiting transportation to Florida.
Artemis 2 is currently slated to launch in late 2024, with the crew selection scheduled to be announced on April 3. However, there is some concern that the launch date will slip into 2025 even before we get into the countdown. Artemis 3 is set for the end of 2025, which also has a lot of concerns if all of the parts needed to make that mission successful will be ready, including Axiom’s spacesuit and SpaceX’s Human Landing System Starship.
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