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Here’s Who’s Making $3.5 Billion-Worth of Spacesuits to Be Worn on the Moon and Beyond

Slowly but surely, humanity’s second Moon exploration program is becoming a reality we cannot escape. With the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spaceship still on track to launch uncrewed later this year, Artemis will soon transition to crewed missions, with the stated goal of returning our species to the Moon.
Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace to make Artemis spacesuits 10 photos
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For that to happen though, a new spacesuit will be needed, and it’s exactly this piece of the puzzle that fell into place on June 1. As promised, the American space agency announced the names of the companies who will be making it.

The two are Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace, two companies already deeply rooted in the aviation and space exploration industries. According to NASA, the indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract could end up valued at $3.5 billion for all task order awards.

That amount includes the development and services for the first demonstration of the spacesuit outside of the International Space Station (ISS), but also the suits to be worn by the Artemis III astronauts. Further down the road, some version of the suit could also make its way to Mars.

Called Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), the suit should be an evolution of the current design, the Extravehicular Mobility Unit, in use since the 1980s.

As per the initial specs announced back in 2019, the suits should be capable of withstanding temperatures between minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 250 degrees (minus 156 to 121 degrees Celsius), be dust-proof and dust-resistant.

Access to them is achieved through the back, allowing for the pieces of the upper torso to sit closer together. A pressure garment inside will protect astronauts from extreme temperatures, radiation, micrometeoroids, and reduced atmospheric pressure. As far as communication systems go, the current snoopy cap headsets will be replaced by voice-activated microphones.

NASA cleared the two companies, who will own the suits they make together with the agency, to use them for their own commercial purposes as well.

At the time of writing, there is no info on when the first xEMU should be ready.

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