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NASA revealed their new spacesuits at a press conference on Tuesday, with NASA's administrator Jim Bridenstine hosting the event. The catwalk-style event put the two new suits on display: the Orion Crew Survival System suit, and the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU).
These suits are due to be used for the agency's next mission to the Moon in 2024, known as Artemis.
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The two spacesuits
It was made very clear by Bridenstine that these two new suits would be able to fit any and all body types. This is something that would have come in handy earlier this year. "We want every person who dreams of going into space to be able to say to themselves that, yes, they have that opportunity," said Bridenstine.
Due to ill-fitting spacesuits on the ISS, astronaut Anne McCain was unable to be a part of the first all-woman spacewalk. But now, suit size will no longer be an issue.
NASA spacesuit engineer, Kristine Davis, wore the xEMU spacesuit on stage and demonstrated its new advantages by bending down to pick up a rock. Davis also showed how she could reach across herself and wiggle her fingers.
These are all useful attributes, given Artemis' astronauts may be required to spend up to eight hours on the Moon's surface.
The xEMU spacesuit will be the one used for Moon walks and has been designed with much more mobility than other spacesuits. A point that the Apollo astronauts might be envious about.
In the Apollo era spacewalks, astronauts sometimes fell over while walking on the Moon. This won't happen again, as the new suits have more bend at the knees, making lifting objects, as well as walking, much easier.
The bright orange and much more lightweight Orion suit, worn at the press conference by NASA's Johnson Space Center's project manager, Dustin Gohmert, on the other hand, won't be seeing any lunar action.
These particular suits are designed to be worn during take-off and landing, and for protection within the spacecraft and the ISS. Incredibly, the Orion suits can provide support to astronauts for up to six days, should an emergency on the spacecraft occur.
NASA is in the process of building both spacesuits. The plan is to see them ready for action by 2023, in time for the 2024 Artemis Moon crewed mission.