NASA picks Axiom Space to build the first Artemis moonwalk spacesuits

The Artemis III mission will bring humanity back to the moon and will have two astronauts performing up to four spacewalks on its surface. Now NASA has chosen the company that will build the space suits that Artemis astronauts will wear when they exit their spacecraft and explore the lunar landscape. The agency has announced that Axiom Space will develop the mission’s moonwalking system and has been awarded a contract worth at least $228.5 million.

Axiom is one of two companies NASA named its official Artemis spacesuit partners back in June, the other being Collins Aerospace. For this particular order, the agency said it evaluated the two vendors’ bids and selected Axiom to design, develop, certify and eventually produce spacesuits and extravehicular activity services (xEVAS) equipment for Artemis III.

Axiom’s xEVAS will be based on NASA’s Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) spacesuits that the agency developed for Artemis missions. They will accommodate a wide range of crew members, the company said in its announcement, and will be built with increased flexibility and specialized tooling for exploration.

That Axiom is building the spacesuit to accommodate a wider range of bodies is of particular importance as we prepare to explore the moon and other locations in space. If you recall, a planned all-female spacewalk in 2019 was canceled due to a lack of appropriate gear, and it spotlighted spacesuit design and availability of different sizes. Artemis III is set to bring the first woman to the lunar surface, and Axiom confirmed in its announcement that it will be making an xEVAS spacesuit for this female astronaut.

Michael Suffredini, President and CEO of Axiom Space, said in a statement:

“Our upgraded, evolving spacesuits will allow for rapid upgrades to implement better, safer technology over time, ensuring our astronauts are always equipped with high-performance, robust gear for the planet.”

This special order is for the Artemis III landing only. Vendors are expected to compete for future contracts involving spacesuits for recurring moon landings as well as spacesuit development for off-ISS use in low-Earth orbit.

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