The Artemis III mission will return humanity to the Moon. Two astronauts will have to make up to four spacewalks on its surface. In turn, NASA has selected a company that will create spacesuits in which Artemis astronauts will leave the spacecraft and explore the lunar landscape. The agency said Axiom Space will develop a lunar rover system for the mission and received an order worth at least $228.5 million.
In all, NASA named two companies as official space suit partners. Axiom Space is one of them, the other is Collins Aerospace. For this particular order, the agency said it reviewed proposals from two suppliers and chose Axiom, which will design, develop, certify and ultimately manufacture the extravehicular activity space suits and equipment (xEVAS) for Artemis III.
Axiom’s xEVAS suits will be based on the NASA Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) spacesuits that the agency developed for Artemis missions. They will be designed for a wide range of crew members, the company said and will feature increased flexibility and specialized exploration tools.
The fact that Axiom is creating a spacesuit designed for a wider range of bodies is of particular importance, as preparations are being made not only to explore the Moon but also other deep space locations. If you recall, a planned spacewalk for women in 2019 was canceled due to a lack of suitable gear, which drew attention to spacesuit design and the availability of various sizes.
The Artemis III project is to put the first woman on the surface of the moon, and Axiom confirmed in its announcement that it will be making an xEVAS spacesuit for this female astronaut.
President and CEO of Axiom Space Michael Saffredini stated: “Our modernized, evolvable spacesuits will enable rapid upgrades to implement better, safer technologies over time, ensuring our astronauts are always equipped with high-performing, robust equipment. We look forward to providing our space pioneers with advanced tools needed to further humanity’s permanent expansion off the planet.”
This order is for Artemis III landings only. Things are looking up as suppliers compete for future orders. These will include spacesuits for repeat lunar landings, as well as developing spacesuits for use outside the ISS in low-Earth orbit.