NASA Unveils Next-Gen Spacesuits


NASA and Collins Aerospace are working on the new suits for spacewalking and work on the International Space Station.

NASA and its commercial partners are working on the next generation of spacesuits to help the agency achieve its exploration goals through advanced spacewalk capabilities and technologies in the new suits, according to an announcement on Wednesday. 

NASA astronauts have used the Extravehicular Mobility Unit spacesuit design for more than 40 years, exceeding its planned lifespan. However, the next generation of spacesuits will help astronauts perform their mission in low Earth orbit or at the International Space Station with the advanced technologies it provides.

Specifically, Collins Aerospace, in collaboration with ILC Dover and Oceaneering, is designing and building NASA’s new spacesuits to fit a variety of body sizes and offer a greater range of motion through a high-mobility upper torso. The adjustable torso will offer a better fit for astronauts and can be changed during flight. Moreover, the spacesuit uses fewer parts and has easy-to-use features, so astronauts have to undergo less training and maintenance.

“NASA’s partnership with Collins Aerospace represents the future of space exploration and the strength of American innovation,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This next-generation spacesuit will make it easier for every NASA astronaut to conduct critical spacewalks in low Earth orbit. NASA’s collaboration with our commercial partners is pushing the boundaries of space technology to enable humanity to safely and comfortably work in space for the benefit of people on Earth.”

Additionally, the new easier-to-maintain spacesuits will utilize technology that is efficient, durable and needs less maintenance than the current suits. The new suits also use advanced life support technologies like oxygen supply, carbon dioxide scrubbing, electrical power, heat dissipation and ventilation. There will be a liquid cooling and ventilation garment that serves as an improvement on the existing EMU spacesuit worn under the new spacesuit to help regulate the astronauts’ body temperatures during spacewalks. 

“Though the current EMU is incredible and has been an absolute workhorse for the Shuttle and Space Station Programs, NASA needs a new spacesuit for use on the space station,” said Lara Kearney, manager of NASA’s Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility program. “With a new spacesuit, we can address some of the current obsolescence issues with the EMU and take advantage of all the new technologies that are available to us now that weren’t available 50 years ago, such as improved mobility and technological innovations in life support systems.”

NASA chose Collins Aerospace from its Exploration Extravehicular Activity Services contract solicitation. The agency noted there will be more task orders to help NASA have a full service offering for its spacewalks through 2034. 

NASA also selected Axiom Space to provide suits for astronauts to wear for Artemis III, which will return humans to the moon. 

These suits will help NASA replace the decades-old-designed spacesuits to better serve its mission needs.