When astronauts make a historic return to the surface of the moon, presumably 2025 or 2026, they’ll don Houston-crafted, life-protecting suits.
Houston-based Axiom Space has landed the rights to create spacesuits and supporting systems for NASA’s Artemis III mission, which will see humans back on our satellite for the first time since the legendary Apollo missions more than 50 years ago.
This award is the first for a competitive spacesuits contract, NASA notes in a press release. NASA tapped Axiom Space for a task order boasting a base value of $228.5 million. As previously reported, Axiom Space was one of two companies NASA pegged for spacesuit and supporting system development.
These new suits are pivotal, as plans for NASA’s Artemis lunar program call for not just lunar orbit, but trips to the lunar south pole and even a crewed outpost on the moon.
Axiom Space will be responsible for the design, development, qualification, certification, and production of its spacesuits and support equipment. Spacesuits will be tested for moonwalks and spacewalks.
This spacesuit 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 Johnson Space Center.
“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,” said Lara Kearney, manager of NASA’s Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility program. “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.”
The first lunar mission since 1972, Artemis will be historic in myriad ways, none of least for seeing the first woman and the first person of color on the moon, as well as a testing ground for eventual Mars missions.
Artemis I is set to launch on September 19, barring any delays.
This article originally ran on CultureMap.