NASA has chosen Axiom Space to provide spacesuits for the first astronauts who will explore the area near the lunar South Pole.
This is part of NASA’s plan to work with commercial service providers to build a strong economy on the Moon. During an event at Space Center Houston in Texas, Axiom Space unveiled the first prototype of the modern spacesuits that will be used for the Artemis III mission. The event was open to students and the media, who were able to ask questions and examine the spacesuit up close.
“NASA’s partnership with Axiom is critical to landing astronauts on the Moon and continuing American leadership in space. 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,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Our partnership is investing in America, supporting America’s workers, and demonstrating another example of America’s technical ingenuity that will position NASA and the commercial space sector to compete – and win – in the 21st century.”
As part of NASA’s goal to advance long-term lunar exploration, the agency is planning to land astronauts on the Moon with the Artemis III mission, including the first woman. To achieve this, NASA has selected Axiom Space to provide the moonwalking system, including the spacesuit. The new spacesuit, called the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit (AxEMU), incorporates the latest technology and provides enhanced mobility and protection from hazards on the Moon.
To develop the spacesuit, NASA has opted for a commercial services contract with Axiom Space, which means that the company will provide moonwalking services to NASA while also seeking other commercial customers for their services. This mutually beneficial approach helps to strengthen the emerging commercial market and enables NASA to utilize the data and technologies developed under the contract for future exploration endeavours. The ultimate goal of the Artemis III mission is to promote scientific discovery, inspire the next generation of explorers, and advance lunar exploration.
“NASA is leading the way in enabling a growing space economy by leveraging industry capabilities and NASA’s expertise to provide moonwalking services as safely, effectively, and efficiently as possible,” said Lara Kearney, manager of NASA’s Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility program.
Axiom Space has developed the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit (AxEMU), an advanced spacesuit that will be used by astronauts during the Artemis III mission to explore the lunar South Pole. The AxEMU is based on the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) prototype developed by NASA, which has been designed for use in multiple destinations.
Using NASA’s expertise and data as a foundation, Axiom Space has incorporated advancements in technology, astronaut feedback on comfort and manoeuvrability, and compatibility with other NASA systems. This approach has enabled Axiom Space to reduce technical and schedule risks while ensuring that the AxEMU meets NASA’s technical and safety standards.
The AxEMU provides the range of motion and flexibility needed to explore the lunar landscape and is designed to fit a broad range of crew members, accommodating at least 90 percent of the US male and female population. Axiom Space will continue to apply modern technological innovations in life support systems, pressure garments, and avionics as development continues.
As part of the contract, Axiom Space is responsible for the design, development, qualification, certification, and production of flight training spacesuits and support equipment, including tools, to enable the Artemis III mission. Prior to the mission, the company will test the suit in a spacelike environment. However, NASA maintains the authority for astronaut training, mission planning, and approval of the service systems.
In preparation for future Artemis missions, NASA has established the Exploration Extravehicular Activity Services (xEVAS) contract to meet the agency’s spacewalking requirements for both the Moon and the International Space Station. Collins Aerospace, a vendor competing within the xEVAS contract, has been awarded a task order by NASA to develop new spacesuits for astronauts to wear during spacewalks on the space station.
Under the xEVAS contract, both Collins Aerospace and other vendors will have the opportunity to compete for future spacewalking and moonwalking services task orders, ensuring that NASA has access to the best technology and services available. By using a competitive approach, NASA is able to select the most innovative and cost-effective solutions for its spacewalking needs.
Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term, sustainable lunar presence to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before and prepare for future astronaut missions to Mars.
Artemis II will be the first flight with crew aboard NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.