Science/Tech

New NASA Artemis Spacesuits For The Moon Are Easier To Use

The first woman and the next man to land on the Moon (probably by 2024) will do so, protected by the new xEMU (Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit) spacesuits revealed to the public for the first time Tuesday.

Also revealed along with the xEMU, which is colored red, white and blue, was a new orange suit called the Orion Crew Survival System. This suit, which isn't meant for spacewalks, will be worn during launch and reentry in the Orion spacecraft. It will provide thermal protection for the astronauts. Both belong to the Artemis Generation of spacesuits.

Derived from older spacesuit technologies, and based on past experience, xEMU will protect astronauts from radiation, temperature extremes and micrometeoroid strikes.

It also makes it far easier for astronauts to move around and work. The xEMU features joint bearings and shoulder enhancements for better upper body motion. Its gloves allow astronauts to move their fingers for easier grabbing.

To enhance mobility, the upper torso has a new shoulder placement so astronauts can move their arms in a greater range of motion. This will also allow astronauts to lift objects overhead or reach across their body.

The lower torso is a new addition not present in the Apollo spacesuits. It will permit better bending and rotating at the hips and knees. The "Moon boots" are similar to a hiking boot and have flexible soles.

The spacesuits are designed to protect astronauts on the surface of the Moon and Mars against temperatures ranging from -156°C to 120°C (-250°F and 250°F). It can be built for everyone from "first percentile female to the 99th percentile male."

"The Artemis Generation of spacesuits will fit everyone," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. "We want every person who dreams of going into space to have that opportunity."

NASA, however, still hasn't developed a light and efficient built-in toilet for the suit so astronauts will still wear diapers to take care of their natural body functions.

The cloying and sharp Moon dust was a far more dangerous problem for the Apollo astronauts than had been anticipated. The xEMU is designed to keep out dust so that it doesn't clog up the life support system.

Its backpack, or the Portable Life Support System, powers the spacesuit, houses the oxygen supply, regulates temperature and removes toxic gases, odor and moisture from the suit. It also monitors performance and emits audible warnings in case of danger.

The helmet will include a protective visor that can be replaced if it's damaged, scratched or dented. This will allow astronauts to continue with spacewalks rather than having to send the helmet back to Earth for repairs.

The xEMU will be tested on the International Space Station (ISS) before they're used for Artemis Moon missions.

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