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NASA chooses Axiom, Collins Aerospace for next generation of spacesuit development – WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando

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Brandon Hogan, Digital Editor
Published: June 1, 2022, 9:16 AM
Updated: June 2, 2022, 7:39 AM
Brandon Hogan, Digital Editor
HOUSTON – NASA officials on Wednesday announced the two companies that will develop the agency’s next generation of spacesuits.
Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace will develop and provide the suits for low Earth orbit missions outside the International Space Station, and for the Artemis Moon missions.
A news conference took place NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The broadcast included center director Vanessa Wyche and the center’s International Space Station Program operations integration manager Dina Contella, as well as Lara Kearny and Lindsay Aitchson, manager and program executive of the Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility programs at Johnson and NASA headquarters respectively.
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Axiom says the contract is important because they are already building a commercial space station and will need the new suits anyway.
NASA said the companies must demonstrate the suits first in a “relative environment,” either on the space station or in a simulated environment. NASA hopes to have these suits ready in the next few years for demonstration, possibly by 2025.
NASA in May called off all non-emergency spacewalks after water was found in the helmet of European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer following a space station excursion in March. Though it had been nearly ten years since water in an astronaut’s helmet notably put a person in danger — the last instance being when Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano found his eyes, mouth, ears and nose filling with water during a spacewalk in 2013 — NASA will still arrange for Maurer’s helmet to go under the knife back on Earth while the agency decides on new spacesuits altogether.
ISS program operations integration manager Dina Contella called the current spacesuits the workhorse of the space program for 40 years. The ISS will be the test bed for the new suits.
Those suits are expected to outfit future astronauts on the planned Artemis moon missions, as well as for general use on the space station. In a statement, NASA suggested the new spacesuits will be used either literally or constructively for missions to Mars as well.
New spacesuits that allow humans to explore the lunar surface and unlock new spacewalk capabilities outside the International Space Station are a critical part of advancing human exploration in space and demonstrating continued American leadership. Under Artemis, new exploration spacesuits, together with human surface mobility systems, the Space Launch System rocket, the Orion Spacecraft, ground systems, Gateway, and human landing systems, will enable NASA to return humans to and establish a long-term presence at the Moon and to eventually explore Mars.
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Spacesuit problems have prevented astronauts from completing the installation of powerful, new solar panels outside the International Space Station.
NASA officials said Tuesday that non-emergency spacewalks at the International Space Station using aging shuttle-era spacesuits are “no go” pending review of another close call where an astronaut found water entering their helmet during an excursion.
Concerns over space debris has delayed a planned spacewalk at the International Space Station.
Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.
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She has been writing columns on consumer gadgets for over 2 years now. Her areas of interest include smartphones, tablets, mobile operating systems and apps. She holds an M.C.S. degree from Texas A&M University.