As NASA celebrates a milestone achievement with the completion of the first all-female spacewalk on Friday, October 18, it calls on industry and academia to support its new spacesuit system that will enhance the reliability, safety, and performance of future missions in space. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) encourages all relevant stakeholders to respond to NASA's request for information (RFI) by November 4 to help refine and mature the acquisition strategy for production and services for its new lunar spacesuits.
NASA reports that with the support of academia and industry, it has designed and developed new technologies and systems to support a flexible exploration spacesuit system, called the "Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit," or xEMU. The new spacesuits can be used in spacewalks "that may vary with dust, thermal conditions, operational requirements such as walking, driving rovers, or collecting samples, or gravity."
The spacesuit design provides for greater astronaut capabilities, too: They will accommodate a broader range of crew sizes and improve fit, comfort, and astronaut mobility for tasks on the lunar surface. Production deliveries are expected in 2024 in order to support launch integration for future Artemis missions in 2025 and beyond.
"You won't see the bunny hopping and falls like those seen in the Apollo videos, because we've added bearings and new soft elements to help the suit move smoothly with the wearer," said Marshall Smith, director of the Human Lunar Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. "With the improvements to the suits for Artemis missions, astronauts can now open up new possibilities for science and exploration at the Moon."
NASA seeks industry input on procuring the production and evolution of space suits and supporting equipment and tools, including vehicle interface hardware. See the NASA's RFI or review the NASA announcement.