NASA Unveils New Spacesuits Designed To Take Astronauts To Moon, Mars
NASA has developed two new space suits to get astronauts to the moon by 2024.
On Tuesday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine hosted an event in Washington unveiling a prototype of the the spacesuits that will go on the Artimis missions -- NASA's effort to return to the moon.
The xEMU spacesuit will be used for space walks to explore the moon’s south pole and has major improvements with mobility.
Amy Ross, spacesuit engineer for NASA, said that unlike the Apollo-era spacesuits, astronauts in the xEMU spacesuit will have increased hand dexterity, be able to lift up their arms, bend down to pick up objects and twist their bodies from side to side.
“If we remember the Apollo generation, you remember Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren. They bunny hopped on the surface of the moon. Well now we’re actually going to be able to walk on the surface of the moon which is very different than our suits of the past," Bridenstine said.
The other spacesuit unveiled was the Orion Crew Survival Suit. It is designed to be worn inside the Orion spacecraft for launch and re-entry and will be worn on deep space missions. In the case of accidental depressurization, astronauts will be able to live in the suits for up to six days, which is "no small feat" according to Dustin Gohmert, Orion Crew Survival Systems Project Manager.
Bridenstine said the suits will help with the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars and are designed to be taken apart and fitted with other, customizable parts that can be interchanged depending on location and terrain.
“Ultimately the goal is this: we’re going to Mars. And, in order to go to Mars, we have to use the moon as a proving ground," Bridenstine said. "We need to learn how to live and work in the surface of another world for long periods of time. And, in order to do that friends, we need spacesuits.”