Oct 15, 2019 - Science

NASA unveils new spacesuit for the Moon and more

A person wears a spacesuit next to two other people in front of an American flag

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine with spacesuit engineers Amy Ross and Kristine Davis during a demonstration of the new spacesuit. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA's newest spacesuits are designed to allow astronauts to explore the Moon as never before.

Why it matters: The new spacesuits are a key component of NASA's Artemis mission, which is expected to bring humans back to the surface of the Moon by 2024, as directed by the Trump administration.

Details: The suit — called the xEMU — represents an upgrade from the Apollo-era spacesuits used on the lunar surface decades ago.

  • The xEMU has flexible joints to allow astronauts on the Moon's surface to be able to pick up rocks and investigate interesting samples more easily than the stiff suits used by Apollo moonwalkers.
  • It is also made to function in microgravity when needed and will be custom fit to each astronaut who wears one, according to NASA. The space agency also plans to adjust the suit for use on Mars one day.
  • The suit is designed to withstand the extremes of life on the Moon, functioning through temperatures as low as -250°F and as high as 250°F.

"We want you to not have to think about the suit at all," NASA spacesuit engineer Lindsay Aitchison told Axios in July of the agency's plans for the xEMU. "Anything you do just feels like working in your regular shirtsleeves."

But, but, but: The Artemis program still suffers from a lack of support in Congress, and the 2024 landing deadline is an ambitious one that will require billions of dollars in funding between now and then.

Go deeper: NASA needs a new spacesuit

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