NASA is hiring two companies to make future suits for the moon

NASA announced Wednesday, June 1, that it has contracted two companies, Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace, to develop the spacesuits that will be worn by future astronauts on the moon. These suits are also used for the International Space Station (ISS), replacing the current ones that have been in service for around forty years. “History is written in these combinations”said Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, at a news conference. “The First Person of Color and the First Woman” step on the moon “will wear these suits”she stressed.

NASA originally planned to develop this new generation of suits itself, but was way behind schedule. The decision to eventually entrust it to two companies confirms the American agency’s focus on public-private partnerships in recent years. “This allows us to save some costs because we share the investments”, argued Vanessa Wyche. The two companies invest “a significant amount of their own money”NASA said in a statement.

Details on the amount of each contract have not yet been released, but overall the program has a $3.5 billion cap for performance to be delivered through 2034. The Agency reserves the right to ultimately choose only one of the two companies. or both, or even add others. But they retain ownership of the suits and are responsible for their upkeep.

Axiom Space, which has already sent space tourists to the ISS with SpaceX, is planning to build its own space station. So the company itself will need space suits for its future customers. “We had planned to make a suit as part of our program, so it’s fantastic to benefit from NASA’s years of experience.”said Michael Suffredini, CEO of Axiom Space.

NASA has detailed a whole range of needs and requirements, both for operations on the moon and for trips to low orbits around the ISS. The two environments don’t present the same challenges, for example the weight of the suit doesn’t matter in zero gravity, while on the moon dust has to be taken into account. It’s up to Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace to decide whether it’s a single combination or two separate ones. The goal is to enable those who wear them “as much mobility as possible”summed up Dan Burbank from Collins Aerospace and himself a former astronaut.

The two companies want to prove that they meet all the requirements around the year 2025 – the year in which Artemis 3, the mission to land humans on the moon, is planned.

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