(ORDO NEWS) — NASA has announced that it will outsource the development of new spacesuits for American astronauts to two private companies: Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace. The suits will be used on the ISS and when landing on the lunar surface.
The contract runs until 2034, and in total both companies will earn up to $3.5 billion per order. Companies will be able to use NASA’s developments, as well as own spacesuits and be able to use them or created technologies for commercial missions.
Today, NASA uses spacesuits for spacewalks from the ISS that were developed back in the late 90s, and they, in fact, are a modified version of the spacesuit, which was first used back in 1983.
NASA began developing next-generation spacesuits back in 2007 and has since spent more than $400 million on it, but they are still not ready for use. At the same time, already in 2025, the agency intends to blow up its astronauts to the moon.
In this regard, NASA decided to give the development and maintenance of next-generation space suits to private companies, by analogy with other projects, such as the delivery of astronauts to the ISS and the surface of the Moon, which are also handled by companies, and not by the agency itself.
Consequently, the contract was awarded to Collins Aerospace, which participated in the development of NASA’s current space suit, and Axiom Space, which sends tourists to the ISS and plans to create its own segment at the station.
The first tasks under the contract, in addition to development, will be a demonstration of the work of spacesuits during spacewalks from the ISS and landing on the moon as part of the Artemis-3 mission, which is already scheduled for 2025.
In general, NASA will give companies the freedom to develop, but the agency has size requirements: suits must fit people of all sizes, from the 5th percentile for women to the 95th for men (i.e. it must fit women starting from five percent of the most short and 95 percent of the tallest men).
In total, more than 40 companies participated in the contact competition, including SpaceX, which developed their spacesuits for the crew of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
At the end of this year, the company will demonstrate its work in open space for the first time: as part of the Polaris mission, it will open the hatch of the ship and release one of the space tourists outside of it, while the rest will be inside, but in a vacuum.
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