When they land at the lunar south pole in September 2026, astronauts on the Artemis 3 mission will open a new spacesuit for extravehicular excursions. It was designed by the American company Axiom Space and is currently in use Tested At NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
This self-contained pressurized suit called AxEMU (Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit) should provide greater freedom of movement for astronauts than those currently in service outside the International Space Station. On the Moon, Artemis astronauts will not only walk, but will also bend and kneel to collect lunar samples, all while using instruments.
The Artemis spacesuit will be tested in 2024 and 2025
An Axiom Space engineer uses a hammer and chisel to break up simulated moon rocks while wearing an AxEMU spacesuit during testing at NASA's Johnson Space Center. © Axiom Space
This is exactly the purpose of the tests currently underway. Axiom Space engineers use NASA facilities to simulate various sample collection missions to test the ergonomics of the AxEMU suit.
Since introducing the spacesuit prototype in March 2023, Axiom Space says it has made significant progress in its development. The company specifies that it will enter a phase of “ Critical review » From NASA in June 2024. « In 2024 and 2025, the suit will be tested in different ways to reproduce the space environment », announces Axiom Space.
The AxEMU spacesuit will be able to withstand the rigors of the Moon's South Pole
This will include testing in thermal vacuum chambers that expose the equipment to the temperatures and vacuums of space. Tests will also be conducted at Johnson Space Center's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. In this indoor pool, which is one of the largest in the world, astronauts train for spacewalks.
An Axiom Space engineer wearing an AxEMU spacesuit uses a shovel to collect simulated samples of lunar rock. © Axiom Space
Axiom Space confirms that the AxEMU spacesuit will be able to withstand the harsh conditions prevailing at the lunar south pole. ” It will be able to withstand cold temperatures in areas of permanent shade for at least two hours », refers to the company. ” To ensure that the suit is suitable for a wide range of crew members, Axiom Space conducted numerous evaluations with different subjects, including engineers and astronauts. “, she adds. Axiom Space has also developed special instruments for exploration and scientific experiments. They are designed to integrate with the AxEMU suit.
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