Jim Stein, Chief Engineer of EVA Systems at Axiom Space, in the new suit that Axiom designed for NASA's Artemis III mission to the Moon, stands next to retired NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, at NASA's unveiling of the new suit on March 15, 2023. (NASA TV)
When the next astronauts step foot on the Moon, they are going to be doing so in style!
This week, NASA and Axiom space unveiled the new space suit that the Artemis III crew will wear when they touch down at the lunar south pole sometime in the next few years.
"We're carrying on NASA's legacy by designing an advanced spacesuit that will allow astronauts to operate safely and effectively on the Moon," Michael Suffredini, Axiom Space president and CEO, said in a press release on Wednesday. "Axiom Space's Artemis III spacesuit will be ready to meet the complex challenges of the lunar south pole and help grow our understanding of the Moon in order to enable a long-term presence there."
The AxEMU Spacesuit, designed and built by Axiom Space for NASA's future Artemis missions. While this display model of the suit is black, the final version worn by the astronauts will be white to reflect sunlight and prevent the suit from overheating. (Axiom Space)
While the original suits worn by the Apollo astronauts were large and bulky, and only allowed a limited range of movement, NASA says, "the AxEMU features the range of motion and flexibility needed to explore more of the lunar landscape, and the suit will fit a broad range of crew members, accommodating at least 90 percent of the US male and female population."
Watch below: NASA and Axiom Space unveil the spacesuit the next astronauts will use to walk on the Moon
The Artemis I mission lifted off last year, with the uncrewed Orion spacecraft completing one trip around the Moon and back to Earth.
Artemis II is expected to fly sometime in 2024. This time, the Orion capsule will have four astronauts on board during its journey to the Moon and return to Earth. NASA and the Canadian Space Agency will announce which four astronauts will make that flight on April 3, 2023.
Following the successful completion of that mission, NASA hopes to launch Artemis III in 2025. This mission will feature the first landing on the lunar surface since 1972, as the astronauts are expected to touch down at the Moon's south pole to explore, gather samples, and conduct science. This will include the first woman and the first person of colour to set foot on the Moon.
These missions are intended to be a stepping stone towards a permanent presence in lunar orbit, with the Lunar Gateway station, and towards the first human missions to Mars.