NASA has commissioned two companies to develop futuristic suits for the Moon
NASA announced Wednesday that it has commissioned two companies, Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace, to develop spacesuits worn by future astronauts on the moon.
These suites will also be used for the International Space Station (ISS), replacing the current ones, which have been in use for nearly forty years.
“This combination will make history,” said Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, at a news conference. “The first person of color and the ‘first woman to walk on the moon’ would wear these suits,” he noted.
NASA originally planned to build this new generation of suits, but fell far behind schedule.
The choice to finally entrust them to two companies confirms the emphasis on public-private partnerships by American companies in recent years. “This allows us to save some costs, because we share the investments”, argued Vanessa Wyche.
The two companies are investing a significant amount of their own money, NASA said in a statement.
Details of related contract amounts have not yet been released, but the total program is capped at $3.5 billion to provide services through 2034.
The organization reserves the right to ultimately choose one or both of the two organizations or even to engage the other But they will own the suits and be responsible for their maintenance.
Axiom Space, which has already sent space tourists to the ISS with SpaceX, plans to build its own space station. Thus the company will need space suits for its own future customers.
“We planned to build a suit as part of our program, so it’s great to benefit from NASA’s years of experience,” said Axiom Space boss Michael Suffredini.
NASA has detailed a whole series of requirements and requirements for working on the Moon and traveling in low orbit around the ISS.
The two environments do not present the same challenges, for example the weight of the suit is not an issue in weightlessness, while dust on the moon must be taken into account.
It is up to Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace whether it will be a single combination or two separate ones.
The goal is to allow the wearer “as much mobility as possible,” summarized Dan Burbank of Collins Aerospace, a former astronaut himself.
The two companies plan to demonstrate that all requirements are met by 2025 — the year Artemis 3 is planned, the mission to re-land humans on the Moon.