Science

Moon 2024: NASA Desires Concepts for Lunar Spacesuit Tech


NASA is seeking to the non-public sector to assist mature and manufacture the spacesuit it would want for its future moon missions, the primary of which is focused for 2024.

The area company plans to construct and certify the brand new spacesuit, which is named the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU). The primary few fits, made in home, shall be tested on the International Space Station in 2023 and worn by the astronauts who contact down on the lunar floor in 2024 on the Artemis III mission. (Artemis is NASA’s formidable crewed lunar-exploration program, which goals to determine a long-term, sustainable human presence on and across the moon by 2028.)

However NASA desires some support from business thereafter. On Friday (Oct. 4), the company revealed a request for info (RFI), asking for business suggestions to “refine and mature the acquisition strategy for production and services for lunar spacesuits,” as NASA officers explained in a statement. (You’ll be able to view the RFI here.) 

Associated: Can NASA Really Put Astronauts on the Moon in 2024?

“After Artemis III, NASA plans to transition responsibility for production, assembly, testing, sustaining and maintenance of a fleet of flight and training spacesuits and associated hardware to U.S. industry,” NASA officers added. 

The xEMU could possibly be tailored for different locations moreover the moon, reminiscent of Mars. It can use extra superior expertise than the 50-year-old Apollo moon spacesuits and permit astronauts to stroll comfortably on strong floor, not like NASA’s present crop of spacesuits, that are tailor-made for spacewalks outdoors the ISS.

NASA plans to get business suggestions on how one can enhance the preliminary spacesuit design, how business would produce the brand new threads, how one can produce and keep instrument kits and {hardware} for the moonwalks, and the way every firm would enhance the fits over time. The dialogue may even embrace how one can commercialize components of the fits or related gadgets (reminiscent of instruments) for non-NASA clients.

Lunar astronauts may have a number of design modifications to stay up for, in contrast with older varieties of spacesuits. One of the vital well-known components of the Apollo missions within the 1960s and 1970s — the bunny hop astronauts used to maneuver round on the lunar floor — will now not be wanted, as a result of the xEMU will incorporate important mobility enhancements, NASA officers stated. For instance, the decrease torso of the spacesuit will use bearings and different elements to let astronauts stroll and even kneel whereas doing their experiments and geology work.

NASA additionally plans modifications to make it simpler to accommodate completely different physique sizes, a problem that cropped up on the ISS earlier this 12 months when spacesuit match necessities postponed the first all-female spacewalk from March to October, if all goes based on plan. There shall be spacesuit modifications for consolation and match, in addition to a brand new life-support system with simply swappable elements to accommodate expertise enhancements.

“The new exploration suit can be used in spacewalks that may vary with dust, thermal conditions, operational requirements such as walking, driving rovers, or collecting samples, or gravity,” NASA officers added within the assertion. 

The company plans to make use of variations of the xEMU spacesuit on the ISS, on the longer term Gateway lunar space station and on future missions to Mars.

Comply with Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Comply with us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

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