NASA and a private company called Axiom Space showed off new spacesuits that will be used by astronauts when they go to the Moon. These suits are Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Units or AxEMUs. They’re better than Apollo and ISS suits. The new suits were only partially shown so the design would not be copied. An extra layer of fabric only for display is covering the new Axiom Space xEMU spacesuits.
The primary reason for using this cover layer is to hide the specific details and design of the spacesuit since they are proprietary, meaning they are owned by Axiom Space and not meant to be revealed to the public or competitors. The press release also explains that the spacesuit will be white, as it needs to reflect heat and protect astronauts from the extremely high temperatures on the Moon.
What is the difference between this suit and the new AxEMU spacesuit?
Compared to the Apollo suits, the new xEMU spacesuits are one-piece suits with a “hatch” on the back, which is a back entry design that allows astronauts to step into the suit from behind. The suit has a hard torso that provides the core structure, arms and legs, and various mobility joints. The arms and legs can be changed out for custom fitting, which provides a better fit for the individual astronaut.
Additionally, the AxEMU spacesuit has a portable life support system on the back that provides life support systems for heat and cooling, air to breathe, and even food and water. The helmet bubble is mounted to the hard upper torso, and on top is the visor assembly that includes lights to allow astronauts to see in shadowed areas or during the lunar night. The new gloves and boots are designed to be more flexible and durable, allowing astronauts to work longer hours on the lunar surface.
However, we got to see that they are more functional and flexible than older suits,
How to get inside the xEMU spacesuits?
The suit is a one-piece suit with a hard torso that provides the core structure of the suit and arms and legs with various mobility joints. It can change out the legs and arms for fitting. To get into the suit, the astronaut would first approach the suit from the back, where there is a hatch or opening. They would then open the hatch and step into the suit one leg at a time. And pull it up to their waist. They would then slip their arms into the arm openings, which have a variety of mobility joints to allow for flexibility.
Once the arms are in, the astronaut would put on the helmet. The helmet is then attached to the hard upper torso of the xEMU spacesuits. The visor assembly is located on top of the helmet bubble. The visor assembly includes lights that help astronauts see in shadowed areas or during the lunar night. The backpack is located on the rear of the spacesuit. The backpack contains life support systems that provide cooling and heat, air to breathe, and even food and water to the astronaut. Once the backpack is attached, the astronaut is ready to go outside and perform a spacewalk or extravehicular activity (EVA).
Now, you might be wondering,
Who demonstrates the suit by putting the suit on?
Axiom Space engineer Jim Stein wore a prototype of the new suit and demonstrated it by walking around, doing squats, lunges, kneeling, and more. As well as displaying how much flexibility the arms of the new suit provided.
NASA’s Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility Program office are based at the Johnson Space Center (JSC). The program office conducted ten years of research on spacesuits for lunar activities, including moonwalks. He shared research findings with Axiom, the designers of the xEMU spacesuits. Axiom used this information to develop the new AxEMU spacesuit. The next astronauts landing on the Moon will wear this new spacesuit.
Let’s find out,
What are the experts’ remarks on this?
Lara Kearney is the program manager. She explains that developing a spacesuit for the Artemis missions was challenging due to the Moon’s harsh environment. In particular, the south pole’s temperature requirements presented a significant challenge. The team aimed to make the new suit more mobile than the Apollo suits to improve astronaut movement. However, they also leveraged their past knowledge and experience to guide Axiom Space in developing the new spacesuit.
NASA’s Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche says NASA has not created a new astronaut spacesuit in the last 40 years. The last time NASA created new spacesuits was for the Space Shuttle program. Therefore, the collaboration with Axiom Space has created a new spacesuit, the AxEMU, which Wyche describes as being more functional. She adds that NASA will collaborate with Axiom Space to make the new spacesuit safe for astronauts.