Washignton: NASA has unveiled the first spacesuits to be worn by astronauts on their journey to the Moon.
A prototype of the spacesuit was revealed on Wednesday at Space Center Houston's Moon 2 Mars Festival, with a full fleet of training spacesuits to be delivered to NASA later this year.
The new suit -- Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit (AxEMU) -- has been designed and built by Axiom Space, a space services company, as part of a deal by the space agency. In 2022, NASA awarded Axiom a $228.5 million task order under a $1.26 billion contract to build the agency's next-generation spacesuits to support the Artemis lunar missions.
"NASA's partnership with Axiom is critical to landing astronauts on the Moon and continuing American leadership in space," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, in a statement.
Building on NASA's years of research and expertise, Axiom's next generation spacesuits will not only enable the first woman to walk on the Moon, but they will also open opportunities for more people to explore and conduct science on the Moon than ever before," he added.
The new Axiom spacesuits are based on NASA's Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) spacesuit design. They are created to provide increased flexibility, greater protection to withstand the harsh environment, and specialised tools to accomplish exploration needs and expand scientific opportunities.
Since a spacesuit worn on the Moon must be white to reflect heat and protect astronauts from extreme high temperatures, a cover layer is currently being used for display purposes only to conceal the suit's proprietary design.
Axiom Space collaborated with costume designer Esther Marquis from the Apple TV+ series, "For All Mankind" to create this custom cover layer using the Axiom Space logo and brand colours.
Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of colour on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term, sustainable presence and serving as a gateway for future astronaut missions to Mars. Artemis III is scheduled to land near the lunar south pole in 2025.
"We're carrying on NASA's legacy by designing an advanced spacesuit that will allow astronauts to operate safely and effectively on the Moon," said Michael T. Suffredini, Axiom Space president and CEO, in a statement.
"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,"he added.
Prior to the mission, Axiom Space will test the suit in a spacelike environment. In addition to furnishing the AxEMU spacesuits, Axiom Space will also provide systems training and real-time operations support to NASA, among other services. —IANS