In the first public event presenting the Artemis III Lunar Space Suit, NASA revealed the prototype that will be worn by the first woman and person of color to go to the Moon. Made by Axiom Space, the next-gen spacesuit will eventually be white, but is currently on display with a black cover while they finalize the top layer’s final design.
The Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or AxEMU (fingers crossed this is the brief for the mission’s zero-gravity indicator plushie), got a grand reveal at Space Center Houston’s Moon 2 Mars Festival. As a prototype, it’ll join a fleet of training suits sent to NASA later this year so that astronauts can begin preparing for the next crewed lunar landing, Artemis III, set to take place in 2025.
“When that first woman steps down on the surface of the Moon on Artemis III, she’s going to be wearing an Axiom Spacesuit,” said associate administrator for NASA Bob Cabana at the reveal. “We’re going back to the Moon but we’re going to the South Pole this time. Why are we going there? It’s challenging. "
"We’re going to learn more, there’s water ice there. Water is hydrogen for fuel and oxygen to breathe. We are going to learn how to operate on the Moon for extended periods of time, and learn how to operate away from planet Earth […] All of this is in preparation for going on to Mars."
"We’ve got to have an EVA mobility suit to make that happen, and this is the suit that’s going to do it.”
Spacesuits have to be white on a mission to the Moon because of the way it reflects heat. Anything other than white isn’t going to protect astronauts from the extreme temperatures that the light side of the Moon experiences, reaching as high as 127 degrees Celsius (260 degrees Fahrenheit).
The AxEMU is specially designed to be sufficiently flexible and heat-resistant, kitted out with new tools that Axiom says will enable exploration of more of the lunar surface than ever before.
As for what they’ll find – well. You’re just going to have to wait until November 2025.