NASA Radically Redesigns Space Suits For The First Time In 40 Years, See The New Look

Nasa partnered with Axiom Space Inc. to give its space suits an updated look for the first time in 40 years.

By Kari Apted | Published

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Everyone deserves an occasional wardrobe upgrade, NASA astronauts included. The space agency partnered with Axiom Space to design a new-and-improved suit and unveiled a prototype on Wednesday at the Moon 2 Mars Festival at Space Center Houston. The new ultramodern NASA space suits have enhanced protective features, innovative equipment, and offer a greater range of motion than the iconic white space suits astronauts wore on previous missions.

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Source: Axiom Space Inc.

The new NASA space suits are called the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or AxEMU, and were designed for the Artemis III lunar mission in 2025. Axiom emphasized the suit’s usefulness for exploring the moon in a recent press release. The company said it is designed to “provide astronauts with advanced capabilities for space exploration while providing NASA commercially developed human systems needed to access, live and work on and around the Moon.”

Axiom also noted that the black NASA space suits shown in press photos are not the finished product. Moonwalking suits must be white to reflect heat to protect the wearer from the wildly fluctuating temperatures on the moon. Therefore, the black suit in the images has a cover layer to conceal its proprietary construction and is only for display purposes.

Axiom plans to deliver its first batch of space-ready NASA space suits in late summer. The company says the suits are designed to fit around 90 percent of men and women in the United States. This flexibility is important as NASA is committed to making future space missions more diverse.

The Artemis III lunar mission marks the first time humans will explore the moon’s South Pole. Its crew will include the first person of color and the first woman in the history-making space mission. It has been over 50 years since the Apollo missions first carried humans to the moon.

George Dvorsky of Gizmodo was at the unveiling of the NASA space suits and shared his thoughts on the platform. He felt “impressed” as Axiom Space chief engineer Jim Stein walked onto the Moon 2 Mars stage wearing the suit. Dvorsky described it as “Something discernibly 21st century and even a bit sci-fi.”

Dvorsky expressed frustration over being unable to see the “cool stuff behind the hood.” However, some aspects had to be kept secret because Axiom is in competition with Collins Aerospace for designing NASA space suits. Dvorsky noted that the helmet was “truly cool”, featuring bright headlights on each side, a large fishbowl face for wide peripheral vision range, and a high-definition camera to capture what promises to be excellent POV imagery.

Lara Kearney, manager of NASA’s extravehicular activity and human surface mobility program, spoke at the space suit reveal. She stressed that there were three fundamental elements that went into the new NASA space suits design, including thermal protection, improved mobility, and stringent safety requirements. According to her NASA bio, Kearney has nearly 30 years of experience in building, testing, certifying, and operating human space flight hardware.

The space agency takes credit for the NASA space suits’ basic design, so Axiom didn’t have to create the project from scratch. Axiom chief Michael Suffredini said at the unveiling that roughly half of the suit’s design comes from years of work by NASA and the other half from Axiom Space and its partners. We’re carrying on NASA’s legacy by designing an advanced spacesuit that will allow astronauts to operate safely and effectively on the Moon,” Suffredini said in an Axiom press release.