NASA has new spacesuits for trips to Moon and Mars
NASA has unveiled two new prototype spacesuits that will be used in future missions to the lunar surface, as well as future missions to the likes of Mars.
The new suits offer a range of improvements, including greater comfort and movement. Spurred on by Donald Trump, NASA has said it wants to return to the moon by 2024 – which means it needs new technology to allow humans to safely set foot on the surface. The last man on the moon? 1972.
“We’ve been working for a long time to build spacesuits that will do the job on the moon and going on to Mars,” said Amy Ross, a spacesuit engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The first suit is bright red, white and blue. It’s the exploration extravehicular mobility unit, and what astronauts will wear as they explore the moon’s surface. Improvements include making it easier for the wearer to walk, bend and twist.
“You remember Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, they bunny hopped on the surface of the moon,” Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator, said. “Well, now we’re actually going to be able to walk on the surface of the moon, which is very different than our suits in the past.”
The suits will function in temperatures ranging from 120-degrees to -120 degrees centigrade. It will allow NASA to send astronauts to places around the lunar South Pole, which has the greatest chance of astronauts finding signs of life.
The second suit – which is bright orange – will be worn during launch and re-entry back to earth. The astronauts will be working in the new Orion crew capsule, which NASA has been quietly working on for the last 15-years. The suit provides protection and oxygen in case of de-pressurization and can keep an astronaut alive for six days.
“The primary use in the case of an accidental depressurisation,” said Dustin Gohmert, a spacesuit engineer who modeled the Orion suit. “We can take safe haven in this suit. We’ll seek refuge in here.”
NASA has said both suits will be ready by 2024.