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This week NASA revealed the new Artemis III lunar spacesuit developed by Axiom Space. AxEMU (Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit) is a major redesign of planetary spacesuits in four decades.
So, what are the new features of this brand-new Moon spacesuits and how does our Aouda planetary spacesuit compares to the AxEMU?
Lightweight and flexible
The spacesuit is much lighter than the Apollo spacesuits (which had a weight of 80 kg). We estimate that it will weigh about half of the Apollo suits. In addition, Axiom did a great job including soft and hard mobility joints on the arms, legs and hips, so it is much easier to bend or kneel down to grab a tool.
The spacesuit itself is also adaptable to different sizes of the astronauts, especially arm and leg length.
This spacesuit is a rear-entry suit, which means astronaut can step directly into the suit. This means a much quicker donning. For planetary mission there are concepts, that rear-entry suits can directly dock to a station and therefore astronauts do not need to bring in their “dirty” spacesuits inside the station.
The AxEMU has an hard-upper-torso as core structure and a backpack with the portable life support system. On the helmet bubble lights (can be switched on by the astronaut itself) and a HD camera is mounted.
The outer layer is made of a poly-aramid textile. The final color for the moon spacesuit will be white because of thermal reasons (reflects better the sun).
The suit itself has the capability to be worn up to 8 hours and will probably be used for the first time in 2025 when humans return to the Moon.
Let’s have a look at our Aouda spacesuit simulator. Our spacesuit is designed for planetary analog mission on Earth, so it is not spaceflight proofed, which makes it much cheaper to develop. The Aouda spacesuits are developed since 2009 and were used in 13 Mars analog simulations.
Flexible with restrictions
The spacesuit weights about 45 kg including an exoskeleton, to simulate pressure adminisions on Mars (you don’t have this in the AxEMU spacesuit). During our missions we have demonstrated that the spacesuit is very flexible, kneeling to pick up tools or geological samples isn’t a problem. The spacesuit itself doesn’t come in sizes, it is somewhat adjustable and has been worn be 13 analog astronauts (male and female).
The Aouda spacesuit is a front-entry suit and therefore needs 2 people and 3 hours to don. The successor of the Aouda spacesuit will also have a rear-entry, which is the most promising concept for planetary spacesuits. Our spacesuit also has a hard-upper-torso and a backpack with a portable life support system. On our helmet lights as well as a HD camera is mounted.
The outer layer is now (since 2022) made of a poly-aramid composite textile, the same as the AxEMU. In a recent ESA project (PexTex) we researched the best material for planetary spacesuit. More details will be released after the final presentation in April. Our suit is capable of EVA lasting up to 6 hours and will be next used during AMADEE-24 mission in March/April 2024 in Armenia.
This article is available in: German
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