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NASA Introduces New, More Flexible One-Size Suits

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WASHINGTON, Oct 15, 2019 (AFP) – Less rigidity to move more easily: The costumes that American astronauts will wear to walk on the moon in the coming years, as part of the Artemis program, were presented on Tuesday by NASA.

These models are prototypes that have not yet been tested in space and whose design has yet to be completed.

The return to the moon is officially scheduled for 2024 with the Artemis 3 mission, although this schedule is still uncertain due to delays and funding problems.

The costumes should not be ready until 2023.

In front of a huge American flag at the United States Space Agency headquarters in Washington, the engineers put on their press suits.

Earlier costumes, which were worn for moonwalking in the Apollo missions (1969-1972), provide oxygen to astronauts, recycle air, regulate temperature, and protect against radiation.

NASA engineers have been working for years on an improved version, especially for the elimination of carbon dioxide.

There will actually be two types of costume: one for walking on the moon, white with blue and red flags, called "xEMU", and another for the path between Earth and the Moon, plus Light orange, named "Orion Crew Survival Suit", the survival suit for Orion's capsule crew.

The xEMU model will be more flexible, as NASA engineers demonstrated.

"Remember that during the Apollo years, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were jumping like rabbits on the lunar soil. Now it will be possible to walk," said Jim Bridenstine, NASA chief.

And as engineer Kristine Davis has shown, astronauts will have much more freedom of movement: they can lift their arms above their heads, which was not possible with Apollo suits; They will also be able to squat easily to pick up lunar rocks without risking losing balance and falling.

Another important innovation is that the new costume is designed to fit all sizes for both men and women.

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