On Mar. 15, 2023, NASA and Axiom Space revealed a prototype of the spacesuits that astronauts will wear on the surface of the Moon during the Artemis III mission, which will be the first crewed landing on the Moon since the final Apollo flight in 1972.
The new Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit (AxEMU) spacesuit will provide astronauts with advanced capabilities for space exploration, offering extraordinary flexibility and greater protection to withstand harsh environments.
The suits are designed to accommodate a wide range of crew members increasing the available sizes; this adaptability also increases comfort by utilizing innovative soft and hard joints for a greater range of motion.
This technology will enable astronauts to walk on the Moon more effortlessly and perform more precise scientific tasks and will allow more lunar surface exploration than ever before.
The new helmet offers improved visibility, and the boots are specially designed for moonwalking.
A spacesuit worn on the Moon must be white to reflect heat and protect astronauts from extremely high temperatures; this prototype has a cover layer used for display purposes to conceal the suit’s proprietary design.
Axiom Space’s role
NASA started work on its own lunar spacesuits and unveiled the prototypes in 2019 but in 2021 it was revealed that the development of those suits had been delayed and wouldn’t be ready in time.
In June 2022, NASA announced the selection of Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace for a task order contract (a contract that does not specify a firm quantity of services) to advance spacewalking capabilities in low-Earth orbit and on the Moon.
This agreement enables the selected companies to compete for different assignments that will provide astronauts with next-generation spacesuit and spacewalk systems to work outside the International Space Station (ISS) and explore the lunar surface during Artemis missions.
In September 2022 it was announced the victory, and therefore the selection, of Axiom Space to build a moonwalking system for the Artemis III mission.
Under this task order, Axiom will develop a next-generation Artemis spacesuit, supporting systems and will demonstrate their use on the lunar surface during Artemis III.
NASA defined the technical and safety requirements for the spacesuits and Axiom Space will be responsible for the design, development, qualification, certification, testing, and production of its suits and support equipment that will meet the requirements for Artemis III.
NASA experts will maintain the authority for astronaut training, mission planning, and approval of the service systems.
Axiom will also deliver a full fleet of training spacesuits to NASA by late this summer.