NASA announced Wednesday, June 1, that it has commissioned two companies, Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace, to develop spacesuits that future astronauts will wear on the moon’s surface. These suits will also be used for the International Space Station (ISS), replacing the current suits, which have been in use for about forty years. “History will be made in these groups.”Vanessa Weicy, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said at a press conference. “The first person of color and the first woman” to set foot on the moon, “I will wear these suits”indicated.
NASA had originally planned to develop this new generation of the same suits, but it fell far behind schedule. The choice to finally assign them to two companies underscores the emphasis the agency has placed in recent years on public-private partnerships. “It allows us to save some costs, because we share investments”Vanessa Wiccy argued. The two companies invest ‘A large amount of their own money’NASA said in a statement.
Details of the amount of contracts involved were not disclosed, but in total, the program has a ceiling of $3.5 billion, for a service provided through 2034. The agency reserves the right to eventually select only one of the two companies, or both, or even add others. But they will remain the claimants and responsible for their maintenance.
Axiom Space, which has already sent tourists to the International Space Station with SpaceX, is planning to build its own space station. Thus, the company itself will need spacesuits for its customers in the future. “We planned to make a suit as part of our program, so it’s great to take advantage of NASA’s years of experience.”said Michael Suffredini, President of Axiom Space.
NASA has detailed a whole series of needs and requirements, whether for work on the Moon or for outings in low orbit around the International Space Station. The two environments do not present the same challenges, for example the weight of a suit is not a problem in weightlessness, while dust has to be taken into account on the moon. It’s up to Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace to decide whether it’s one group or two separate groups. The goal is to allow those who wear it “As much mobility as possible”Dan Burbank of Collins Aerospace, himself a former astronaut.
The two companies plan to prove that they meet all requirements around 2025 – the year Artemis 3, the mission to land humans on the Moon, is planned.
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