The new suits will contain all the necessary systems to keep explorers comfortable and safe from the temperatures, radiation and lunar bedrock
The American space agency NASA unveiled the new spacesuit that will be worn by the first astronauts to set foot on the Moon in 50 years, as part of the Artemis 3 mission, scheduled to launch in 2025.
For the first time in history there will be a woman on the crew. The presentation was also attended by representatives of Axiom Space, the private company that created the suits for the Moon for $228 million.
The Moon’s south pole is a strategic region, the exploration of which is already contested by major space powers, including the US and China. It is possible that there are large amounts of frozen water here in the permanently shadowed areas where sunlight never reaches. Water will be essential for sustaining future colonies, producing fuel and testing all the systems necessary to fulfill NASA and Europe’s next big dream: to carry astronauts to Mars.
Last summer, the US space agency announced 13 possible South Pole landing sites for the 2025 mission. Each of these sites measures about 15 kilometers (9 miles) on each side, and within them, the landing site is located with an accuracy of 100 meters. All the points are about six degrees from the south pole, are elevated areas and therefore well lit, and are relatively close to craters where ice may be abundant. China is considering some of these spots to send a robotic mission there.
The new suits will contain all the necessary systems to keep the explorers comfortable and safe from the temperatures, radiation and lunar regolith (a mixture of heterogeneous materials that cloaks the solid subsurface). Powerful searchlights will allow astronauts to see around them despite the backlight as they traverse the terrain. This new generation of suits will allow for much more natural movements than previous ones, including boots with flexible soles in the style of hiking boots, NASA explained, which means we won’t see astronauts jumping around in comical little jumps like they did half a century ago. The suit still has a diaper, which is there in case the explorers can’t hold on during their six-hour lunar excursions.
The same suit, with a few modifications, will be used for spacewalks aboard the International Space Station, the future Gateway Station, which NASA describes as “a multipurpose outpost in lunar orbit providing essential support for long-term return of humans to the lunar surface’ and, in the more distant future, for the exploration of Mars.
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