NASA has just revealed a new spacesuit that will be worn by astronauts on the manned Artemis missions for spacewalks outside the International Space Station. It’s officially called the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or xEMU for short, and its roots date back to the Mercury spacesuits that were essentially upgraded Navy high-altitude flight suits. Read more for two videos on the Artemis missions and additional information about the suit.
Since we now know that lunar soil is composed of tiny glass-like shards, these new suits feature several dust-tolerant features to prevent inhalation or contamination of its life support system or other spacecraft. It’s also built to withstand temperature extremes of -250° Fahrenheit in the shade and up to 250° Fahrenheit in the sun. NASA upgraded the Portable Life Support System, or backpack astronauts wear on spacewalks, that houses the suit’s power / breathable air, removes exhaled carbon dioxide / toxic gasses / odors / moisture from the suit, and regulates the temperature as well as monitors overall suit performance.
Astronauts on the Artemis missions will be more nimble than ever, thanks to a new lower torso that includes advanced materials and joint bearings for more bending / rotation at the hips, increased bending at the knees, and hiking-style boots with flexible soles. The upper torso has received shoulder enhancements to allow astronauts to move their arms more freely and easily lift objects over their heads or reach across their body in the pressurized suit. The new audio system boasts multiple, embedded, voice-activated microphones inside the upper torso that automatically pick up the astronaut’s voice when they speak to their fellow comrades, their crewmates aboard the Gateway, or mission control in Houston.