“And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for!” On stage, a man comes forward to shouts of joy and applause. The reason for this excitement is not his identity, but what he is wearing: a prototype of the new space suit that will be worn by the next astronauts on the Moon.

The event was organized on Wednesday in Houston, Texas, by NASA and the company Axiom Space, which was awarded the contract to develop the suits for the Artemis 3 mission a few months ago.

This mission of the American space agency, officially scheduled for 2025, must land astronauts on the surface of the Moon for the first time in more than half a century, including the first woman.

Range of motion

In Houston, Chief Engineer Jim Stein, selected to don the suit, demonstrated by waving his arms, stooping, and even crouching down. Improved mobility and range of motion is one of the great advances of this modern suit, compared to those of the Apollo program.

But one thing will not change: it will always be white, assured Russell Ralston, deputy head of the spacewalk program at Axiom Space. White makes it possible to better reflect the sun’s rays, to better regulate the temperature inside the suit.

If the prototype presented on Wednesday was black and orange, it is because it included an additional layer intended to keep certain aspects of development confidential. Indeed, for the contracts for the following Artemis missions, Axiom Space is still in competition with Collins Aerospace. NASA paid $228.5 million for this first contract for Artemis 3.

“Look of hell”, reacts Pesquet

“Any European would look fabulous in there, and no doubt many will have the opportunity to wear it…”, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet reacted on Twitter. “But I don’t know, I think it would still look good on me, wouldn’t it? »

On the Moon, the suits will have to be able to face a particularly harsh environment. The south pole, where the Artemis missions will land, can endure temperatures of over 50°C, but also very cold (down to under 200°C at the bottom of some craters). Other difficulties: dust, or sharp stones.

The materials used for the different layers of the suit are therefore insulating, resistant to the risk of tearing, and prevent dust from adhering, explained Russell Ralston. The suits will not be completely custom made for each astronaut, but different sizes will exist. The helmet has front lights, and a high-resolution camera that will allow you to follow the exit live from Earth.


Astronauts will put on the suit by opening it from the back. They will also carry a rucksack, carrying what they need to stay alive: “Like a bottle of compressed air and a very sophisticated air conditioner, combined”, described Russell Ralston. The suits can be worn for at least eight hours in a row, to carry out samples and other scientific research.

If the company described the suit as “revolutionary”, one thing will not change compared to the time of Apollo: for their natural needs, the astronauts will always wear layers underneath.


Developing a space suit is immensely difficult, and hasn’t been done in the United States since the days of the space shuttles. The technology of those currently used for outings outside the International Space Station (ISS) is thus the same as it was around 40 years ago. Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace are also responsible for developing new suits for spacewalks.

So far, NASA has owned its suits, but it has decided on a different model for the future, renting them to the private sector. Those developed by Axiom, called AxEMU (for Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit), however, come from around 50% of recent research and development by NASA, which has made its knowledge available to companies, said Michael Suffredini, the boss of ‘Axiom Space. The company plans to build its own space station, and will thus itself need suits for its future customers on board.

By admin