NASA and Houston-based space agency Axiom Space gave CBS News an early look at the spacesuits astronauts will wear on the Artemis III mission — the NASA program’s first lunar landing to return astronauts to the moon. The suite was officially unveiled at an event in Houston on Wednesday.
Russell Ralston, EVA deputy program manager at Axiom Space, said the new suits are designed to be more mobile, compared to the bulky and flexible Apollo suits that astronauts donned during moonwalks.
“It’s going to be a lot easier to walk around in this suit or do the same things they did on Apollo and so on, but do it in a slightly simpler way,” Ralston said.
The redesign of the spacesuit covers everything from top to bottom. New helmets offer improved visibility, and boots in particular Designed to walk on the moonComplete with thermal insulation suitable for the Moon’s South Pole.
To prepare the suit for the 2025 landing, Axiom Space and NASA will fine-tune and evaluate the suit through tests at Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, where part of a 40-foot-deep pool has been transformed into a moon. landscape
“It will give us a really good indication of how mobile the suit is and what kind of fatigue, if anything, the crew members are going to experience after six or seven hours of work,” said Lara Carney, who oversees the program at NASA. and ensures that Axiom meets the requirements.
Ralston said the final suits are close to the final version with one significant difference: color. The outer layer for the mission will be white and made of Mylar and Kevlar, which will take the astronauts to a part of the moon that has some of the coldest temperature craters in the solar system.
“Going into a permanently shadowed region on the moon is something that’s never been done before,” Ralston said.
NASA outsourced the project to Axiom after 15 years of developing its own next-generation moon suit. The company adapted more than half of NASA’s original design.
According to Peggy Whitson, Axiom’s director of human spaceflight and a former NASA astronaut who has spent more time in space than any other American, the spacesuit is the first designed specifically for a woman.
The 21st century spacesuit is built using advanced technology, such as laser cutters that precisely slice different fabrics and 3-D printers that create components, resulting in cost and time savings. However, some components are still assembled using traditional sewing machines.
In space, dressing for success is a matter of survival.
“I go to church with the astronauts. We see them when we get groceries. We know their kids,” said Ralston. “The product you’re building, their lives will depend on it. So, it’s something we take very seriously.”