astronauts will be strolling the moon in patriotic style.
The space agency broadcast a demonstration of new spacesuit designs for the Artemis moon mission at a Tuesday press conference, where NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine hosted a dramatic catwalk-style unveiling of the new suits.
The public event showcased two prototypes. The orange Orion Crew Survival System suit is meant to be worn during launch and reentry on board the Orion spacecraft. The red, white and blue Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) is for moonwalking.
Introducing our next-generation spacesuit for #Artemis missions! Here, spacesuit engineer Kristine Davis demonstrates the improved mobility in the new suit, important for working on the Moon's surface. Watch live: https://t.co/n8wWhy876Ppic.twitter.com/9g6sfOaPbf— NASA (@NASA) October 15, 2019
Bridenstine made sure to point out these spacesuits will fit astronauts of all body types, a reference to when NASA had to scrub the first planned all-female spacewalk due to not having enough spacesuit sizes available on the ISS.
NASA dropped some details about the xEMU suits earlier in October, highlighting the maneuverability of the design and the advances made since the Apollo era.
The Apollo astronauts of the '60s and '70s sometimes fell over while out moonwalking. The new suits will allow astronauts to bend at the knees, lift objects over their heads and fully rotate their arms.
A NASA spacesuit engineer wore the xEMU on stage with the suit under pressure. She showed off her ability to reach across herself, wiggle her fingers, and squat down to pick up a rock off the floor.
Astronauts on the moon will expect to spend up to eight hours at a time wearing these suits outside on the moon.
The orange survival suits won't see any lunar-surface duty. They're designed to provide life support for up to six days in case of an emergency on the spacecraft.
NASA is building the first Artemis spacesuits and intends to deliver the finished suits by 2023. The space agency plans to hand off later spacesuit production to private industry.
The spacesuit demonstration had a pep rally feel as Bridenstine promoted NASA's ambitious timeline for getting the first woman and the next man (or perhaps two women) to the moon by 2024.
The space agency sees Artemis as more than a token stroll on the lunar surface. NASA wants to develop a sustainable human presence on the moon and use it as a jumping-off point for deeper explorations into the solar system. Mars is on the menu for the future.
Long before these Artemis-style suits see any Mars duty, they'll have to prove themselves on the moon. If NASA sticks to its 2024 schedule, we may soon enough be watching high-def video of these US flag-colored spacesuits on astronauts bouncing across the moon.
Originally published Oct. 15, 12:23 p.m. PT.
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