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Nasa unveils space suit prototype for Artemis moon landing missions

The Artemis III space suit prototype, developed by Axiom Space, will help keep astronauts safe and cool while working in the harsh environment of space

Chief Engineer Jim Stein wears the new spacesuit during the Axiom Space Artemis III Lunar Spacesuit event at Space Center Houston in Houston, Texas, on March 15, 2023. (AFP)

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US space agency Nasa has revealed the space suit that astronauts will wear when they return to the moon as part of the Artemis mission in the coming few years.

The space agency revealed details about the prototype space suit provided by Axiom Space, a privately funded American space infrastructure developer, during an event at Space Center Houston in Texas on 15 March. 

Called the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or AxEMU, the spacesuit builds on Nasa’s space suit prototype developments and incorporates the latest technology, enhanced mobility, and added protection from hazards at the Moon, according to a statement on the Nasa website.

Experts from Nasa defined the technical and safety standards by which the spacesuits will be built, and Axiom Space agreed to meet these key agency requirements, the website explains. The new space suits will be nothing like what astronauts have worn before. 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. Axiom Space will continue to apply modern technological innovations in life support systems, pressure garments, and avionics as development continues.

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. The company will test the suit in a spacelike environment prior to the mission.

The Artemis III mission will land astronauts, including the first woman, on the Moon to advance long-term lunar exploration and scientific discovery. Before Artemis III, however, are two crucial planned missions.

According to a Reuters report, the Artemis I mission, the inaugural launch of Nasa's powerful next-generation rocket and its newly built Orion spacecraft on an uncrewed test flight around the moon and back, was successfully completed in December. Nasa and the Canadian Space Agency plan to announce the four astronauts chosen to fly as early as next year on Artemis II, another out-and-back mission… That flight, if successful, will pave the way for a planned Artemis III astronaut expedition to the lunar surface - the first ever to the moon's south pole - later in the decade. It will be the first ever to send a woman to walk on the moon, the Reuters report adds.

Nasa says following Artemis III, the agency will comp;ete future Artemis mission services under the Exploration Extravehicular Activity Services (xEVAS) contract. Nasa is also using the contract to meet the agency’s spacewalking needs for both the Moon and the International Space Station.

Also read: Future of space travel: Get set for a holiday in zero gravity

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