Next-generation garments for Artemis programme will be used during 2024 lunar mission
Nasa has unveiled two new spacesuits designed to be worn by the first woman to walk on the moon.
The next-generation suits were made for the Artemis programme, which aims to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024.
Speaking at Nasa’s headquarters, the administrator, Jim Bridenstine, and spacesuit engineers presented the first closeup look at the suits.
A bulky, mostly white prototype suit with blue and red arms was demonstrated by Kristine Davis, a spacesuit engineer at the Johnson Space Center.
The garment, known as the exploration extravehicular mobility unit (xEMU), is designed for exploring the lunar surface, specifically the south pole – the target for Nasa’s next crewed lunar landing.
Kristine Davids squats to pick up a rock to show the flexibility of the exploration extravehicular mobility unit.
“Kristine is wearing a spacesuit that will fit all of our astronauts when we go to the moon,” Bridenstine said. “These are our spacesuits for the Artemis generation.”
The suit is more flexible than previous generation suits, allowing astronauts to squat to pick up rocks and move more easily. The insulation is designed to withstand a temperature range of -150C to 120C.
“If we remember the Apollo generation, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin bunny-hopped on the surface of the moon,” Bridenstine said. “Now we are actually going to be able to walk on the surface of the moon, which is very different from our suits of the past.”
A new orange pressure suit, the Orion crew survival system, was worn by the spacesuit engineer Dustin Gohmert. It will be worn by astronauts when they launch into space on the Orion capsule and return to Earth.
The focus on spacesuits designed to fit a more diverse crew comes after plans for the first all-female spacewalk had to be scrapped this year because there were not enough medium-size spacesuits.
Christina Koch and Anne McClain had been scheduled to step outside the International Space Station to install batteries, but in the event only Koch was able to take part in the walk.
Another attempt at an all-female spacewalk, involving Nasa astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, is scheduled to take place on Thursday. The pair plan to embark on a six-hour outing to replace faulty batteries.