NASA Unveils a New Moon Spacesuit for Artemis Astronauts

In space, moon suits are the height of fashion, and NASA officials on Wednesday lavished their highest praise on what astronauts will be wearing when they step on the moon in the coming years.

The latest in lunar space wear — black with orange and blue highlights — comes from Axiom Space in Houston.

At an event in Houston unveiling the new suit, an engineer from Axiom who was demonstrating the lunar gear showed how he could easily squat and move around. The large clear bubble around the head provides wide visibility as well as lighting, which will be important when astronauts step into shadowed craters near the lunar south pole. It also has a mount for a high-definition camera.

Astronauts will get into and out of the spacesuit via a hatch in the back side.

“You would put your feet in, put your arms in, and then kind of shimmy down into the suit,” said Russell Ralston, deputy program manager for extravehicular activity at Axiom Space. “And then we would close the hatch.”

On the back is a backpack-like contraption containing the life support system. “You can think of it as a very fancy scuba tank and air-conditioner, kind of combined into one,” Mr. Ralston said.

The main difference between the prototype shown today and what will be going to the moon is that the ones going to the moon will be white instead of dark. “That’s really for thermal reasons,” Mr. Ralston said.

By turning to this private company, NASA is again relying on new commercial space enterprises to provide key components faster and cheaper than it could itself develop.

The approach follows the template NASA used in hiring Elon Musk’s company SpaceX to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and to the lunar surface on the mission for which the Axiom suits were designed.

The Axiom suits that will actually be used on the moon will be white to help astronauts manage the temperature extremes on the lunar surface.Credit…Axiom

The moon suit is a key component that is required for the Artemis program, which will be sending astronauts back to the moon as NASA faces heightened competition in space and on the moon from China’s booming space sector. The Axiom suits will be worn during the Artemis III mission, the program’s first moon landing, which is scheduled for 2025.

Axiom is led by Michael Suffredini, who previously served as NASA’s program manager for the International Space Station. The company has been primarily focused on low-Earth orbit, sending private astronauts to the I.S.S. and building a private module to be added to the space station.

This is a developing story and will be updated.