The US space agency Nasa is dressing its astronauts in new clothes for future moon landings. NASA presented a prototype of the new space suits together with the US company Axiom Space on Wednesday at an event in Houston, Texas. In late summer, Axiom Space will provide NASA with a first set of suits for training purposes.
The new suits, which took around ten years to develop - including a helmet, visor, boots and a kind of backpack - offer better protection against the harsh conditions in space and better flexibility for the astronauts than the previous ones, it said. The astronauts would be able to bend down or crouch better, for example, in order to then pick up stones from the lunar surface. Chief Engineer Jim Stein even demonstrated lunges and squats wearing the suit at the event.
Current suits introduced 40 years ago
Cameras and lamps are attached to the helmet, and the so-called backpack contains a life support system that has been described as a kind of "mixture of a very chic diving bottle and air conditioning". The spacesuit prototype is black, with orange, blue, and white trim. However, to protect the astronauts from extreme temperatures on the moon, the final space suits will be white.
The space suits that Nasa astronauts are currently wearing for external missions on the ISS were introduced around 40 years ago, back then for the space shuttles. Incidents of water accumulating in helmets during field operations have been a constant concern. Among others, the German astronaut Matthias Maurer was affected. The development of new space suits had been planned for a long time, but had been delayed due to various problems. NASA commissioned the US company Collins Aerospace to develop new space suits for the ISS.
The new suits from Axiom Space are to be used primarily for the "Artemis" mission. The program, named after the Greek goddess of the moon, is intended to land a woman and a non-white person on the moon for the first time, and flights to Mars are also planned in the more distant future. The moon landing is planned for 2025.