The suit is based on a NASA-developed reference design called xEMU, and incorporates increased flexibility and specialized tools for lunar exploration.
NASA has selected Axiom Space to make a moonwalking system for the Artemis III mission, which will land Americans on the surface of the Moon for the first time in over 50 years.
This award – the first one under a competitive spacesuits contract – is for a task order to develop a next-generation Artemis spacesuit and supporting systems, and to demonstrate their use on the lunar surface during Artemis III.
With this award, NASA has put in place another cornerstone of returning astronauts to the Moon under Artemis to support continued scientific breakthroughs, benefiting humanity back on Earth. As part of its planned human lunar spaceflight missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.
After reviewing proposals from its two eligible spacesuit vendors, NASA selected Axiom Space for the task order, which has a base value of $228.5m. A future task order will be competed for recurring spacesuit services to support subsequent Artemis missions.
Commenting on the deal, Lara Kearney, manager of NASA’s Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility programme, said: “NASA is proud to partner with commercial industry on this historic mission that will kickstart the United States building a lasting presence on the surface of the Moon . What we learn on Artemis III and future missions on and around the Moon will pave the way for missions to Mars. Spacesuits enable us to literally take that next step.”
Using more than 50 years of spacesuit expertise, NASA defined the technical and safety requirements for the next generation of spacesuits. Axiom Space will be responsible for the design, development, qualification, certification, and production of its spacesuits and support equipment that will meet these key agency requirements for Artemis III.
NASA experts will maintain the authority for astronaut training, mission planning, and approval of the service systems. Axiom Space will be required to test the suits in a spacelike environment before Artemis III.
Under the indefinite-delivery and indefinite quantity of the Exploration Extravehicular Activity Services contract, eligible industry partners compete for task orders that will provide a full suite of capabilities for NASA’s spacewalking and moonwalking needs during the period of performance through 2034.
Future task orders under the contract will consist of recurring lunar landings, the development of spacesuits for use in low-Earth orbit outside the International Space Station, and special studies.
The spacesuits contract, which will advance spacewalking capabilities in low-Earth orbit and on the Moon, is managed by the Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility Program (EHP) at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Building off NASA’s Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit spacesuit design, Axiom’s xEVAS spacesuits will provide increased flexibility and specialized tools to accomplish exploration needs and expand scientific opportunities in space.
Axiom’s partners on the xEVAS spacesuits will include KBR, Air-Lock, Arrow Science and Technology, David Clark Company, Paragon Space Development Corporation, Sophic Synergistics and APT Research.