NASA partner Axiom Space has revealed its next-generation spacesuit scheduled to be the safety barrier between the harsh lunar landscape and the NASA astronauts that will be walking on its surface.
NASA's Artemis 3 mission, scheduled to launch in December 2025, plans on sending the first astronauts back to the lunar surface in 50 years, and those astronauts will be wearing Axiom Space's Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU). This next-generation spacesuit was developed under NASA's Exploration Extravehicular Activity Services, or xEVAS, contract, which also includes Collins Aerospace, which will be developing its own spacesuit that'll replace the current suits used by astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).
As I explained in my previous article about these spacesuits, on March 15, Axiom Space revealed its first iteration of the new spacesuit design by having someone walk out on stage wearing it. The new suit comes with a range of improvements compared to Apollo spacesuits, which have been mostly the same for more than 40 years.
Axiom Space has outfitted its first next-gen iteration with upgraded joints that enable more comfortable mobility, an overhaul on the boot design that has moved away from hopping being the mode of movement to walking, the ability to equip a selection of scientific tools, and greater protection against the harsh, cold environment of the Moon's south pole, which is where NASA is planning on landing the Artemis 3 mission.
One key takeaway from the new spacesuit design is the black and orange colors, which look almost similar to SpaceX's spacesuit design. However, if an astronaut actually wore a suit with those colors, they would be at risk of serious health consequences. There is a very good reason that the Apollo spacesuits were almost completely white, and it has entirely to do with the lack of atmosphere present on the Moon. The Moon has a very harsh environment, its lack of atmosphere means there is hardly any or zero protection against the dangerous rays from the Sun.
Having a white spacesuit reflects the rays from the Sun, similar to how a black car's exterior will be hotter than a white car's exterior if both of them are left out in the Sun for the same amount of time. Black absorbs all colors of the light spectrum, converting that light energy into heat. Axiom Space decided to alter the colors of the new spacesuit to keep its propriety design concealed, according to the company that explained further in a recently released press release.
"The white version will be provided directly to NASA. We are providing a fleet of training spacesuits to be delivered to NASA by late this summer," said Axiom spokesperson Meridyth Moore to Insider.
Notably, Axiom Space explained that the white version of the spacesuit will be delivered directly to NASA.