The first NASA Artemis astronauts to land on the Moon will wear privately developed spacesuits

After requesting proposals from U.S. companies in October last year, NASA has selected Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace to provide advanced and highly flexible spacesuits and associated services for future astronauts on the Moon as well as the International Space Station (ISS). Collins, who designed the Apollo suits, and Axiom notably beat out over 40 competitors, including SpaceX, Blue Origin and Sierra Space. NASA itself is dropping the development of its in-house xEMU suits in favor of the new proposals.

An illustration and prototype of suit designs to be advanced for use by astronauts on future Artemis missions. Credits: NASA / Collins Aerospace

This move sees NASA double down on its “commercial” model bet to sustain lunar exploration, following decisions to purchase, rather than build, robotic and crewed lunar landers after success with equivalent ISS flights. This has implications for the process of developing and providing spacesuits.

3. The companies are investing their own money too to develop the suits, and they must find customers other than NASA to convert the technologies built into an actual commercial business. NASA wouldn’t state the exact funding the agency is providing to Axiom and Collins but said the combined value of all service purchases through 2034 will be no more than $3.5 billion. As usual, Jeff Foust has detailed reporting on the matter. Note though that the U.S. Presidential FY 2023 NASA budget request released in March asks for $276 million instead of the previous $100 million to accelerate development of lunar spacesuits, crewed rovers and other mobility systems.

Aside: The official NASA webpage for this advanced spacesuits program has a cool URL slug: nasa.gov/suitup

Jatan

The above post is part of the latest issue of my Moon exploration newsletter Moon Monday. Subscribe for free for more such detailed space coverage.

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Jatan Mehta

Space and Moon exploration writer ~ Contributing Editor, The Planetary Society ~ Thinker | Website: https://jatan.space