NASA Is Getting New Spacesuits, Here’s What Makes Them So Special

by Moin Uddin Ahmed Tipu

NASA is aiming to return to the Moon by 2024, and this time with new and improved spacesuits. The agency’s new eXploration extravehicular mobility units (xEMUs) allow astronauts to move about more naturally and have longer EVA’s.
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Before anyone set foot on the moon, nobody knew what to expect. Neil Armstrong clung to the ladder at first for fear the surface might act like quicksand and suck him down. No one was swallowed up but the moon’s regolith posed an unforeseen problem. Because there’s no atmosphere to weather it and grind it down, the dust on the moon is jagged and sticks to everything. It got into seams and zippers and degraded the suits much faster than engineers anticipated.

Because of weight restrictions the lower portion of the suit lacked bearing joints and consequently were stiff. Combine that with unfamiliarity with the moon’s low gravity and you get videos of some of the most intrepid souls who ever lived falling over like toddlers. Apollo taught NASA a lot of lessons.

The suits developed for shuttle missions that are still in use for spacewalks today, known as Extravehicular Mobility Units or EMUs, have also provided a wealth of knowledge. So with Artemis on the horizon NASA has been putting what they’ve learned to use and in October of 2019 they unveiled their eXploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or xEMU for short. The new suit’s bubble helmet improves downward visibility. The xEMU also makes use of more bearing joints, particularly for the lower body to allow astronauts to walk more naturally and stoop down to the moon’s surface.

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Thumbnail Credit: NASA

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But the biggest improvements weren’t on display at the suit’s unveiling last fall. Instead, they’re hidden away in the xEMU’s portable life-support system, the astro backpack that turns the space suit from a bulky piece of fabric into a personal spacecraft. It handles the space suit’s power, communications, oxygen supply, and temperature regulation so that astronauts can focus on important tasks like building launch pads out of pee concrete.

NASA’s Next Lunar Spacesuit Is Going to Be Damned Impressive

For the Artemis 3 mission (the first to feature a crewed landing), NASA wants to land its astronauts near the lunar south pole. This region is permanently shadowed, so it will present a greater chance that the team will find and collect water ice—a valuable natural resource, not to mention an important object of scientific inquiry.

NASA’s new Artemis spacesuits make it easier for astronauts of all sizes to move on the Moon

The larger xEMU suit is also intentionally designed to be upgradeable, somewhat like a PC motherboard, and it’s designed so that it can be upgraded and worked on in space by the astronauts to adopt new and improved technologies as they become available, rather than having to be round-tripped back to Earth for updates.

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33 comments

Mike February 16, 2021 - 3:06 AM

It’s pretty sad that it took us this long to go back to the moon..

Karpeno February 16, 2021 - 4:00 AM

Let's make a human that can endure mars! 🙂

NEET And JEE crack it February 16, 2021 - 9:06 AM

ISRO only

Socute Raptor February 16, 2021 - 12:09 PM

Power Armor in Fallout 4 will soon become a reality…

Kate Ogadako February 16, 2021 - 4:23 PM

Nothing about the most important thing – protection against irradiation.

Adamantium February 16, 2021 - 6:09 PM

Space would be cool but every time i hear micro followed by meteorites my brain just says, nope.

Michelle James February 16, 2021 - 8:40 PM

No one retrieve account better than movingcyber on IG
His really a life saver

Michelle James February 16, 2021 - 8:40 PM

Almost gave up my lost account untill I found movingcyber on IG who helped me recover it

humberto inguanzo February 17, 2021 - 12:45 AM

👍

Sum Guy February 17, 2021 - 10:49 AM

wOw iT’s SuCh A mAjOr DiFfErEnCe

“Surely you’re joking”
The design of the suit was barely changed

Whopper February 17, 2021 - 6:08 PM

to think how far behind they are from spacex because of funding is sad

Willie L February 18, 2021 - 9:25 AM

ISS is retiring thob

Marinus de Beer February 18, 2021 - 6:50 PM

I’m baffled how she doesn’t mention that NASA’s perseverance rover is landing on mars Feb 18

Drumkommandr February 18, 2021 - 6:55 PM

CO2 is a pretty heavy molecule, all things considered. I wonder how viable it would be to use captured CO2 onboard a ship to help with RCS thruster use.

Dennis Tshifhumulo February 18, 2021 - 9:22 PM

This suits don't look cool

Eduardo de jesus February 19, 2021 - 8:01 AM

Nasa is dead. Space x baby

Matthew Snerbble February 19, 2021 - 12:05 PM

They look like they pooped their suits and still have to walk in them….

Philip Anthony Kenny February 19, 2021 - 3:21 PM

😀

Christian Blasco López February 19, 2021 - 6:30 PM

And have they found a functional solution for female astronauts' periods?

Justin Carnes February 19, 2021 - 11:31 PM

I was definitely hoping for some mass effect suits

ZL1 aftermath February 22, 2021 - 8:52 AM

I was looking forward power rangers type of suit

Noah Czomski February 22, 2021 - 8:59 PM

Will they have health bars on their backs and say "Entering zero gravity" when they get to space?

Sketch February 23, 2021 - 4:42 AM

Aliens are going to think the human race has no fashion sense.

Ian Daniel February 28, 2021 - 4:48 PM

It's like resident evil 2 evolution suit use by ada wong

zukodude487987 March 1, 2021 - 8:04 AM

I am waiting for the next gender fluid person on the moon.

Nathan Pratti March 2, 2021 - 12:10 AM

They better add theses suits in the roblox space sailors

Nathan Pratti March 2, 2021 - 12:11 AM

These suits are actually capable of walking on mars so humans can get to mars now

Wild Otter March 2, 2021 - 3:37 AM

Why don’t u use the TR3.b spaceship we own and the suits they use ! We’re on the moon now!

Rex Dalit March 2, 2021 - 9:46 AM

For whatever it's worth: Tommy Gold did extensive experiments at Cornell before the 1st Moon landing in an effort to estimate the amount of dust there, in case there would be a serious accumulation. Tommy took a lot of flack at the time, because for some reason, most astrophysicists thought there would be no dust at all, a now obvious error. Magazines even published joke cartoons about Gold's work in this area. In any event his estimates were approximately correct (if memory serves), and engineers and others were properly sensitized to the issue during Apollo design phases.

Lacie Kerr March 12, 2021 - 5:38 AM

NASA . . . Moon . . . 2024 ? LMFAO
SpaceX might make it though.

Evan Sitton March 15, 2021 - 10:14 AM

Seeker: "The Moon is a hostile environment."
China/Russia Moon collab: "Hold my space laserz."

TriAngles3D March 31, 2021 - 3:56 AM

We are rapidly running out of sand on earth for use in concrete. It is the kind of sand that is jagged, sharp and least weather worn. The kind you find on the moon.

townrumor April 7, 2021 - 4:36 PM

All them years and this the best they come up with 🧐