Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

As NASA pushes back to the Moon, the space agency faces a major engineering challenge: building a new spacesuit in time for the 2024 deadline.

The big picture: Spacesuits are arguably an astronaut's most important tool in space. The suits are designed for a particular mission and tailored to a specific astronaut to allow him or her to work safely in a vacuum.

Details: For the Artemis mission to the Moon, NASA astronauts must have the flexibility to bend down, examine rocks and collect samples — all in one-sixth the gravity on Earth.

  • While those tasks don't sound particularly difficult, they are when contending with the bulky mass of a spacesuit that effectively acts as a human-shaped spacecraft.
  • "We want you to not have to think about the suit at all," NASA spacesuit engineer Lindsay Aitchison told Axios. "Anything you do just feels like working in your regular shirtsleeves."
  • Aitchison and the other NASA engineers working on the suit are also looking at new ways of building spacesuit parts — through 3D printing and other technologies — to make the suits more lightweight and maneuverable.

Where it stands: NASA's new suits have been in development for some time and will need to fit a variety of different bodies, as the agency aims to send the first woman to the Moon.

  • NASA plans to test parts of the new suit as early as next year on the International Space Station.
  • According to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, the spacesuits in development will also be used in low-Earth orbit (LEO) and on the Moon, presenting interesting design and engineering challenges for those building it.

“The requirements of Moon suits are more challenging than LEO alone, but the suit we use on the Moon will also meet the needs of the International Space Station with very little, if any, modifications,” Aitchison said.

Between the lines: Building a spacesuit takes hundreds of millions of dollars of investment.

  • The agency will likely need an influx of cash for the Artemis program if it wants to get the suit done and in testing any earlier than 2023, according to Bridenstine. That money would afford them wiggle room in the schedule if issues pop up.

The bottom line: NASA needs a new spacesuit for its next mission, but it's unclear if the agency will have the Congressional support it needs to deliver the suit well ahead of the 2024 deadline.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
24 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Biden's plan to upend Trump's environmental legacy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will on Wednesday order a government-wide review of over 100 Trump-era policies and direct agencies to prepare a suite of emissions and energy efficiency rules.

Why it matters: New information from transition officials offers the full scope of Biden's imminent, inauguration-day burst of environmental and energy policy moves.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
25 mins ago - Health

The public health presidency

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Joe Biden will take office today facing a challenge none of his modern predecessors have had to reckon with — his legacy will depend largely on how well he handles a once-in-a-century pandemic that's already raging out of control.

The big picture: Public health tends to be relatively apolitical and non-controversial. The limelight in health care politics typically belongs instead to debates over costs and coverage. But that will all change for the Biden administration.

D.C. braces for economic hit from scaled-back inauguration

Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The days leading up to and including Inauguration Day typically generate $31.4 million in additional sales for D.C. businesses — but not this year.

Why it matters: Washington's economy is already suffering from pandemic-induced closures, and could very much use the revelry and tourist dollars that Inauguration Day brings — instead of the large bills that will pile up if there's further mayhem or if visitors continue to stay away.