NASA presents future lunar suits

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NASA presents future lunar suits

The chief engineer of Axiom Space's Jim Stein demonstrates a prototype spacesuit, Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Houston.

NASA and its partner Axiom Space presented on Wednesday in Houston the prototype of the space suit that astronauts who will set foot on the Moon should wear as part of the Artemis program by 2025.

More flexible and more efficient, it will be very different from previous models. Mobility and range of motion have been improved over that of the Apollo program.

The next combination will be more flexible than the previous one. Normand Grondin reports.

Chief Engineer Jim Stein of Axiom Space demonstrated by waving his arms, stooping and even standing ;crouching.

If the prototype is black and orange in order to keep certain aspects of the development confidential, the model which will take the direction of the Moon will be white, a color which makes it possible to better reflect the rays of the Sun and to better regulate the temperature at the bottom. interior.

NASA paid $228.5 million for this first Artemis 3 contract.

On the Moon, the suits will have to face a particularly harsh environment. The South Pole, where the Artemis missions will land, can experience temperatures over 50°C, but also very cold (down to under 200°C at the bottom of some craters). Other difficulties: dust, or sharp stones.

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The prototype of the suit lunar

The materials used for the different layers of the suit are therefore insulating, resistant to the risk of tearing, and prevent dust from sticking, explained Russell Ralston, deputy head of the spacewalk program.

The suits will not be completely custom-made for each astronaut, but different sizes will exist.

The helmet features headlamps, as well as a camera to high resolution that will allow the output to be followed live from Earth.

Astronauts will don the suit by opening it from the back. They will also carry a backpack containing what they need to stay alive, such as a bottle of compressed air and an air conditioner, very sophisticated and combined, described Russell Ralston.

The suits can be worn for at least eight hours in a row for taking samples and other scientific research.

While the company described the suit as revolutionary, one thing will not change from the days of Apollo: for their natural needs, astronauts will still wear diapers underneath.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin photographed by Neil Armstrong during the Appolo 11 mission.

Designing a space suit is very difficult and hasn't been done in the United States since the days of the space shuttles. The technology of those currently used for spacewalks outside the International Space Station (ISS) is thus the same as it was around 40 years ago.

Axiom Space and another company, Collins Aerospace, are also responsible for creating new suits for spacewalks.

So far, the NASA owned its suits, but decided on a different model for the future, leasing them to the private sector.

Those designed by Axiom, called AxEMU (for Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit), however, are approximately 50% of recent research by NASA, which has made its knowledge available to companies, said Michael Suffredini, the boss of Axiom Space.

With information from Agence France-Presse

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