NASA chooses two companies to develop next-gen spacesuits

They'll be used for spacewalks and moonwalks over the next decade.

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NASA's going to need new suits to accompany astronauts to the Moon for its Artemis I mission, and now we know who's going to be making them: Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace. The two companies will develop next-generation suits that'll be used both for spacewalks on the ISS, in addition to Moon exploration. NASA says it has defined the technical and safety standards around the new "xEMU" equipment (Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit), but it's up to these partners to deal with "design, development, qualification, [and] certification" as well as building the necessary support equipment.

According to NASA, the new suits could be ready as soon 2025, following testing in either the ISS or a simulated environment. While the space agency is also gearing up for other new equipment, like lunar landers from SpaceX and more companies, having new suits is among its most important tasks for future missions. Currently, astronauts are still relying on space gear designed around 45 years ago for the Space Shuttle program. In an August 2021 report, NASA noted that its xEMU plans likely won't hit its original 2024 target, and that it has spent around $420 million developing the new suits.

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