NASA ‘s new astronaut suits will be designed to meet the new challenges that await space exploration.
For some years now, space exploration has become one of the new priorities for institutions and governments with a program designed to investigate what exists outside our planet. For this work, it is essential to have the right equipment and NASA knows that there is nothing more important to an astronaut than his space suit .
For this reason, the agency has released a new video through its official YouTube channel where it points out the challenges faced by the designers of the new generation spacesuit, especially with the Artemis program that aims to carry manned missions. to the Moon in the next few years and the first astronauts to Mars in the late 2030s or early 2040s .
“A spacesuit is basically a self-contained environment. It’s a mini spacecraft that wraps tightly around a human body,” says Don Barker , NASA ‘s chief suit architect , in the sequence.
The difficulties of lunar exploration
NASA explains in its video that the biggest challenge in creating the spacesuits that the manned missions to the Moon will use is to find a way to maintain the mobility of the suit while still protecting the wearer against the dangers of our satellite as moon dust.
“When your life depends on a good seal and perfectly functioning fabrics , dust is a big problem ,” says NASA .
Barker indicates that this is especially important since the dust on the Moon has a different composition than on Earth and this can damage the fabrics of the suit. ” Lunar regolith looks like a fine-grained material when you look at photos of Apollo’s boots on it… But you’re going to see everything from broken rock shapes to fractured glass shapes – that’s what it looks like under the microscope – from a particle size range so small that it gets into everything” , indicated the architect.
NASA explains that, while the astronauts of the 1950s who participated in the Apollo missions only needed their suits to withstand a few moonwalks , those who will participate in the crews of the Artemis program will require that their suits can last days, weeks and even months in the Moon and Mars , which have a very complicated climate and the dust that abounds on their surfaces can be harmful.
Possible solutions include adding a special protective coating or charging the suits with electricity to repel dust, although research is ongoing.
Who designs the new NASA spacesuits?
Last June, NASA announced that the designers of the next-generation spacesuits would be Axiom Space and Collins Space , companies based in Texas and Northern California , respectively. The second is working with Oceaneering and ILC Dover , which designed the spacesuit used by lunar astronauts five decades ago, as well as for spacewalks outside the International Space Station (ISS) in more recent times.
The new spacesuits will be used for future spacewalks outside the ISS , but most notably for the Artemis III mission , which aims to put the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface before the end of this decade. If the landing goes smoothly, subsequent astronauts who stay longer at specially built lunar bases will also wear the suits.