Are new spacesuits made

The next moon travelers don't have to hop any more

Washington - "When we remember the Apollo generation, we remember how Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin jumped like rabbits across the moon's surface," said NASA boss Jim Bridenstine on Tuesday, referring to the images that are in our collective Burned in memory.

Most assume that the moon's hobbling was due to the moon's low gravity, but in reality it was due to the stiff spacesuits of the time. As researchers calculated in the "Journal of Experimental Biology" in 2014, one could walk quickly on the moon - and after a short period of getting used to it, even reasonably smooth.

The next generation of lunar travelers will be spared the hopscotch: A new space suit, which NASA has now presented, is supposed to take care of that. The suit, called the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), will give the astronauts more freedom of movement than the model of the Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972. Bridenstine: "Now we will be able to walk across the lunar surface. That is completely different than the earlier suits. "

Improvements

When introducing the suit, NASA engineer Kristine Davis demonstrated its flexibility. She could raise her arms over her head and bend down to pick up objects without losing her balance: Armstrong & Co would have loved such freedom of movement.

The system for the absorption of carbon dioxide is also completely new: While previous spacesuits absorb the toxic gas in high concentrations until the degree of saturation is reached, the xEMU model simply releases it into space.

Race to old and new goals

The development of a new space suit was another step on the way to the return to the moon. After almost half a century of neglect, the satellite has suddenly become interesting again for manned space travel. In particular, the USA, who want to bring people to the moon again in 2024, and China are engaging in a new race. But various private initiatives are also forging ambitious plans.

At the same time, the moon is not the final destination this time - it is for its part "only" an intermediate step to a project that would actually be new: namely, to bring space travelers to Mars. XEMU will then also be used there. (jdo, October 16, 2019)