When NASA designed their first space suits, they were tailored to the male crews who flew in the early 1960s and landed on the moon in 1969. But NASA has evolved into a more diverse agency in space and on Earth Since the last lunar mission in 1972, more than 40 American women have flown on the Space Shuttle or have spent time aboard the International Space Station. In March 2019, NASA officials abruptly canceled their first spacewalk for women in front of the station because they did not bring enough suits for Anne McClain and Christina Koch. McClain was pushed for a male astronaut, causing a commotion (and evoking Aidy Bryant's hilarious SNL sketch).
On Tuesday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine attempted to compensate for this Zero-G fiasco by introducing a red, white and blue symbol A spacesuit he says fits any human body, " from the first percentile of women to the 99th percentile of men ".
The new suit was developed for the 2024 Artemis mission, in which the first woman to enter the moon. (That is, if NASA can successfully build and test both a rocket and a capsule to get there.) This gives astronauts more flexibility as they can stoop to pick up rocks, rover, or normal to walk, without bunnies Along the lunar surface like the Apollo astronauts who sometimes stumbled and fell, as seen in this NASA GIF by Harrison Schmitts moonletting.
The new suits also protect the astronauts from radiation, the moon dust that invaded the old suits, and their equipment was polluted, with temperatures ranging between 250 and minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit. While the synthetic fabrics of the new suits are similar to the material used by NASA since 1990, the new equipment has improved electronics, ambient filters and pressure control systems. For astronauts of all sizes, the new suit features modular chest and waist components that contract or expand.
"We must learn to live and work on the surface of another world for a long time. That's why we need spacesuits," Bridenstine told a number of NASA staff, students and reporters at NASA headquarters in Washington. Adapting to different body shapes was a factor that influenced the design, as well as the goal that astronauts could spend more time exploring the environment more conveniently. "We build spacesuits that are suitable for all our astronauts," he said.
The unveiling this week is the result of a two-year design work by a team in Houston and has now appeared because NASA considers it necessary A production plan shifts when the launch date of 2024 is reached.
The new suits are easier to put on and take off. Instead of putting on separate pieces for each arm and leg, astronauts enter the suit from behind. This is how Russian spacesuits are constructed. Before entering orbit, astronauts receive a 3D full-body scan as they perform movements they expect during spacewalks. With this model, NASA can tailor astronauts to the most appropriate arm, leg and trunk components for them, reducing the itching that plagues life during a seven-hour walk outdoors.
In addition to the new moon suit known at NASA as the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), the space agency also presented new orange crew suits for use in spacecraft. These suits are designed to take off and abseil and can be pressurized in an emergency. Bridenstine and the NASA engineers who designed the crew suit said they had learned lessons from the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster that disintegrated on reentry and killed all seven astronauts. The crew apparently died from oxygen deficiency rather than from the shuttles. The new suits are more self-sufficient and could spare astronauts a similar fate.