NASA revealed the new looks on Tuesday, an upgrade to the classic suits worn by Apollo-era astronauts in the 1960s and 70s.
October 16 (UPI) - As part of its plan to return astronauts to the moon in the coming years, NASA has unveiled two prototype spacesuits it says have greatly improved on the suits worn by the men of the Apollo program who walked on the lunar surface decades ago.
The agency's engineers Dustin Gohmert and Kristine Dans showed off the new suits at NASA headquarters on Wednesday, performing crunches and squats in front of the audience.
The so-called "flight suit" is an enhanced version of the one worn by astronauts on previous Space Shuttle missions. According to the Guardian, astronauts have reportedly been on over 200 spacewalks during the construction and maintenance of the ISS, but only 15 women have ever been on a spacewalk, and have always been accompanied by men. There are three further bearings on the legs along with a flexion-extension joint at the waist to provide more mobility in the lower part of the suit.
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The SLS is NASA's deep space exploration rocket that aims to launch a 27-metric ton, Orion crew vehicle - plus cargo - from Earth to the moon and eventually to Mars. Unlike NASA's suits, Virgin Galactic's new gear isn't actually created to survive in the vacuum of space and does not include any features that would protect the wearer from anything more than standard clothing.
The Trump administration in March directed NASA to land humans on the moon by 2024, accelerating a goal to colonize the moon as a staging ground for eventual missions to Mars. "Well now we're actually going to be able to walk on the surface of the moon which is very different than our suits of the past", Bridenstine said. Not only does this mean astronauts will be safer, but they will also be able to conduct longer missions outside the spacecraft.
A warning system in place will alert astronauts if suit resources are dwindling or if components have failed. "If you need to pick up a rock, if you're examining something, if you're planting a scientific instrument, you need that upper torso mobility". The suit also has fewer seams and will use new materials that keep the dust out. The bulkier of the two suits, called the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), will be worn on the moon's surface. The gloves of the suit have been enhanced making them more durable while also enabling the astronauts to use touch screens.