The current design of the spacesuit of the POT needs a renovation, and the agency has been looking for a private company to take on the task.
Texas-based Axiom Space will build NASA’s next-generation spacesuits for the Artemis III lunar mission that will see American astronauts set foot on the lunar surface for the first time in five decades.
The space agency announced its selection of Axiom Space on Wednesday, September 7, following a review of proposals from North Carolina-based Axiom and Collins Aerospace. The contract is worth 229 million dollars.
NASA has selected @Axiom_Space to deliver a moonwalking system including advanced spacesuits for #Artemis III, the mission that will land Americans on the surface of the Moon for the first time in over fifty years. https://t.co/CbWf4YcSuF pic.twitter.com/d1mouJsU7o
— NASA Artemis (@NASAArtemis) September 7, 2022
If the awardee’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably because this is the company that organized NASA’s first private astronaut trip to the International Space Station in April 2022. A second company-operated private mission is scheduled for spring. of 2023.
NASA said that while its own engineers have stipulated the technical and safety requirements for the new spacesuit, Axiom will handle its design, development, qualification, certification and production, as well as the support equipment that will keep astronauts safe. while exploring the lunar surface.
“NASA is proud to partner with commercial industry on this historic mission that will propel the United States to build a lasting presence on the surface of the moon,” said Lara Kearney, manager of NASA’s Human Surface Mobility and Extravehicular Activity program, in a statement. “What we learn on Artemis III and future missions on and around the Moon will pave the way for missions to Mars. Space suits literally allow us to take the next step.”
Michael Suffredini, President and CEO of Axiom, said that his team is “honored” to be awarded the contract to build NASA’s next-generation spacesuit, adding: “Our modernized and evolutionary spacesuits will enable rapid upgrades to implement better and safer technologies over time, ensuring that our astronauts are always equipped with robust and high-performance equipment. We look forward to providing our space pioneers with the advanced tools necessary to further humanity’s continued expansion off-planet.”
It’s unclear when the Artemis III mission will take place, as NASA is still trying to launch Artemis I. The unmanned mission, which is designed to test NASA’s new SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, suffered a setback last week when technical problems forced engineers to cancel two separate launch attempts. A new release date has not yet been decided.
When it finally lifts off, the SLS rocket will send the Orion capsule on a flyby of the moon before returning to Earth about six weeks later. Artemis II will take the same path but with a crew on board, while Artemis III, along with a crew wearing Axiom’s new spacesuits, will attempt the first astronaut lunar landing since the final apollo mission in 1972. It is currently scheduled to 2025, but with Artemis I pushed back, that date could slip.