NASA unveils new spacesuits for more Moon missions

16 Octobre, 2019, 14:34 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • This is an artist's concept of an astronaut wearing the xEMU spacesuit on the lunar surface

The other new spacesuit, the Orion crew survival suit, will be used during transit between Earth and the Moon.

Prototypes of the Orion Crew Survival Suit that will be worn on the journey and the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) for the lunar surface were unveiled at Nasa's Washington headquarters Tuesday ahead of the agency's planned return to the Moon by 2024.

Before the first lunar landing in 1969, engineers anxious that the lunar soil wouldn't support the weight of a spacesuit and the astronaut inside, but now a greater danger is that the lunar soil is composed of tiny glass-like shards which may damage the suit.

The design criteria? After keeping the crew safe, including America's first woman moon walker, it's all about mobility.

NASA doesn't only plan to use these suits on the Moon. "We want systems that allow our astronauts to be scientists on the surface of the Moon".

Amy Ross, NASA's lead spacesuit engineer, said: "Basically, my job is to take a basketball, shape it like a human, keep them alive in a harsh environment and give them the mobility to do their job".

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A bulky, mostly white prototype suit with blue and red arms was demonstrated by Kristine Davis, a spacesuit engineer at the Johnson Space Center. For picking up a rock or setting up a scientific instrument, "you need that upper torso mobility", she said.

"If we remember the Apollo generation, we remember Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, they bunny hopped on the surface of the Moon", Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine told a hall filled with students and interns at the space agency.

The next-generation suits were made for the Artemis programme, which aims to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024. And it promises the spacesuits will fit all of its astronauts, so that it won't run into any mishaps like having to cancel the first female spacewalk due to an ill-fitting suit.

One suit of orange fabric will be worn by astronauts when inside the spacecraft.

But NASA said Tuesday it is going to try again for an all-female spacewalk on October 21, this time with Koch and fellow astronaut Jessica Meir.

Another attempt for the first all-female spacewalk, a roughly six-hour crawl on the exterior of the space station to install new batteries, is back on for Thursday, Nasa said in a news release on Tuesday.

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