NASA starts testing new Artemis spacesuits underwater

NASA starts testing new Artemis spacesuits underwater and challenges people to pack a bag for the lunar surface in preparation for of 2024 return mission to the Moon

  • NASA is returning the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024
  • They will launch on the SLS rocket and fly to the Moon in the Orion spaceship 
  • The space agency has asked people to share what they’d pack to go to the Moon
  • As part of the preparations astronauts have been testing the Artemis moonwalk spacesuits underwater at the NASA Johnson Space Centre in Houston 

NASA is testing the spacesuits that will be worm by the first woman and next man to step on the Moon and have asked the public ‘what would you pack for the Moon’?

The Artemis spacesuits are being tested underwater by NASA astronauts at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston including planting a flag and taking rock samples.

The space agency plans to land astronauts on the surface of the Moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis mission – launching from the new Space Launch System rocket.

As part of the preparations for the rapidly approaching launch, NASA have asked people to share a picture of the personal items they’d pack if going to the Moon.

This could include items like a flask of tea, pot plant, books or even an instrument – but it has to fit within a tiny 5 inch by 8 inch by 2 inch carry on bag – the size astronauts going to the ISS – and possibly the Moon – are allowed to take with them.

NASA has been testing the new Artemis moonwalk space suits underwater in Houston

The space agency plans to land astronauts on the surface of the Moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis mission – launching from the new Space Launch System rocket

Artemis is the first crewed lunar mission since Apollo – but will go further than those first short hops – including a lunar space station and an eventual human Mars trip. 


The next generation spacesuits being developed for Artemis missions are more ‘personal spaceships’ than suits.

The suit has been designed as a ‘personal spaceship’ for astronauts

The new suit that will be worn on Artemis missions is called the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or xEMU for short. 

It has has a suite of dust-tolerant features to prevent inhalation or contamination of the suit’s life support system or other spacecraft. 

The suit also is built to withstand temperature extremes of minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade and up to 250 degrees in the sun. 

It has been designed to remove exhaled carbon dioxide and other toxic gases, smells and moisture.

Each suit has been designed to allow for easy communication and mobility.

It can bend, rotate at the hips and knees, hike and has flexible souls.

Each suit has been custom designed for every astronaut that will wear it. 

The space agency has created a new, lighter and more maneuverable spacesuit than the one worn by the likes of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo era. 

Astronauts are practicing a variety of tasks, including picking up samples of lunar regolith, examining a lunar lander, and planting an American flag. 

There are many fundamentals that the teams have to consider and work through, such as how crew might get up and down a ladder safely, how to swing a hammer safely, and how to conduct successful moonwalks in different lighting conditions.

The new suits are similar in appearance to the suits worn by ISS astronauts for spacewalks, but they are different, allowing Artemis crew to do much more than their predecessors. 

Named the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit or xEMU – they are effectively portable life support systems that keep astronauts safe. 

According to NASA they are safer, more mobile, have better communications, can be adapted, are custom fit to the astronaut and designed to suit the lunar South Pole. 

Astronauts will launch for the Moon in the Orion spaceship which will leave Earth on top of the massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket currently being built.

Only a handful of people will step foot on the Moon – at least for some time – but NASA is giving people the chance to pretend with its #NASAMoonKit campaign. 

‘We’re excited to see what you would pack for the ultimate adventure – a trip to the Moon,’ said Bettina Inclán, NASA’s associate administrator for Communications.

‘At a time when many of us are working, teaching or learning from home, this is a unique way to learn more about the Artemis program and join NASA as we prepare for humanity’s next steps on the lunar surface.’ 

A wide range of items have already been shared by people on Twitter using the #NASAMoonKit hashtag. 

Only a handful of people will step foot on the Moon – at least for some time – but NASA is giving people the chance to pretend with its #NASAMoonKit campaign 


Items people want to take to the Moon range from the simple – cameras and notebook – to the more elaborate including musical instruments and a Nintendo Switch 

They range from the sparse bags with just a notebook, pencil and camera to the more elaborate selections including Harry Potter books and a teddy bear. 

Samyukta said she would take headphones, playing cards, a phone, watch, hair bands, biscuits and stationary to the lunar surface.

Jack Phan said he would pack a Nintendo Switch, a facemask, a Roku box, music instruments and books with him to the lunar surface if given the chance. 

NASA astronauts headed to the Moon will be able to take their own small selection of personal items for the week they will spend on the surface.

The first Artemis astronauts to land on the Moon will take the record for the longest time on the Moon at 6.5 days – easily beating Apollo 17’s 3.1 days in 1972

Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan preparing to collect samples. He was the last man to walk on the lunar surface

NASA will gradually build towards missions to the lunar surface with an uncrewed lunar fly by, a crewed orbit of the Moon and eventually the landing in 2024

When out and about they will be in the new xEMU space suits, that are specifically designed to their own size and shape – acting as a ‘personal spacecraft’.

Space travel is not for the meek. Regardless of the leaps in space suit advancements, astronauts still must conduct complex science and operational activates while wearing their own personal spacecraft, NASA said.

Practicing on Earth helps – such as underwater – but the difference in gravity, pressure and environmental exposure is difficult to truly replicate on the ground.

Before the first woman and next man take step on the lunar South Pole in 2024, NASA will test the new suits and several of its components on the International Space Station in a spaceflight environment to confirm the overall performance. 

NASA astronauts will spend a week on the surface of the Moon when they return in 2024

Preparing for the Moon involves learning to move in the bulky spacesuits – the best way to do that is taking them underwater in a large pool with a simulated lunar environment

Preparations for the mission have been stepping up over the past 18 months – with companies bidding to build a lunar lander and continued testing of all the elements.


1 + 2. Apollo 11 – July 21, 1969

Neil Armstrong made history by becoming the first person to set foot on the moon.  

Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin followed Neil Armstrong on to the surface.

3 + 4. Apollo 12 – November 19 and 20, 1969

Pete Conrad and Alan Bean were the moon walkers on the Apollo 12 mission. 

5 + 6. Apollo 14 – February 5, 1971 

Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell who were part of the Apollo 14 mission.

7 + 8. Apollo 15 – July 31, 1971

David Scott and James Irwin landed on the moon and stayed for three days, until August 2 1971.

 9 + 10. Apollo 16 – April 21 1972

John Young and Charles Duke were the next men to walk on the moon.

11 + 12. Apollo  17 – December 11, 1972

The final people to walk on the moon were Eugene (Gene) Cernan and Harrison (Jack) Schmitt. 

A lot goes in to sending humans to the Moon – there will be two ‘test’ flights before the 2024 landing – Artemis 1 will be uncrewed, Artemis 2 will do a fly by of the Moon and Artemis 3 will see a crew land on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972. 

NASA recently published a written plan detailing its Artemis program, including the latest Phase 1 plans to land astronauts on the Moon again within four years.

‘With bipartisan support from Congress, our 21st century push to the Moon is well within America’s reach,’ said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. 

‘We’re going back to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new a generation of explorers,’ he explained.

‘As we build up a sustainable presence, we’re also building momentum toward those first human steps on the Red Planet.’ 

The agency’s powerful new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), and the Orion spacecraft are closer than ever to their first integrated launch. 

The spacecraft is complete while the core stage and its attached four engines are undergoing a final series of tests that will culminate in a critical hot fire test this year.

Following a successful hot fire test, the core stage will be shipped to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration with the spacecraft. 

NASA will launch an SLS and an Orion together on two flight tests around the Moon to check performance, life support, and communication capabilities. 

The first mission – known as Artemis I – is on track for 2021 without astronauts, and Artemis II will fly with crew in 2023. 

Before Artemis III can land astronauts on the surface of the Moon, the spacesuits have to be tested and doing so requires a large underwater environment.

This is exactly what astronauts have been doing at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston. Preperations for the first Moonwalk in 48 years include wearing the suit underwater while ‘walking’ and even planting an American flag.  

The items shared by Twitter users ranged from the technical – including virtual reality headsets, microphones and mobile phones – to the strange – including animals, masks, cables and brushes

NASA is preparing for a ‘hot fire’ test of its SLS rocket that will eventually take astronauts to the lunar surface and eventually on to the Moon. The space agency shared their idea of a moon kit

‘This early testing will help determine the best complement of facilities for hardware development and requirements for future Artemis training and missions,’ said Daren Welsh, test lead for Artemis preparations. 

‘At the same time, we are going to be able to gather valuable feedback on spacewalk tools and procedures that will help inform some of the objectives for the missions.’ 

According to the NASA plan Artemis III astronauts will launch from the SLS, travel the 240,000 miles to the Moon on the Orion spaceship and board a commercially built  human landing system – or the new lunar gateway space station if it is finished.

Three US companies are bidding for the chance to build the lander that will return humans to the lunar surface: Jeff Bezos owned Blue Origin, Elon Musk owned SpaceX and Alabama firm Dynetics. 

Artemis is the first crewed lunar mission since Apollo – but will go further than those first short hops – including a lunar space station and an eventual human Mars trip

Astronauts will spend a full week on the Moon in 2024 but this will increase dramatically over time, with the eventual goal of having a permanent base on the natural satellite 

The astronauts will then gather supplies before boarding the landing system for their expedition to the surface – landing on the lunar South Pole.

Wearing modern spacesuits that allow for greater flexibility and movement than those of their Apollo predecessors, astronauts will collect samples and conduct a range of science experiments over the course of nearly seven days. 


Space Launch System, or SLS, is a rocket NASA hopes will take its astronauts back to the moon and beyond.

The rocket will have an initial lift configuration, set to launch in the mid-2020’s, followed by an upgraded ‘evolved lift capability’ that can carry heavier payloads.

Space Launch System Initial Lift Capability

– Maiden flight: Mid-2020’s

– Height: 311 feet (98 metres)

– Lift: 70 metric tons

– Weight: 2.5 million kilograms (5.5 million lbs)

Space Launch System Evolved Lift Capability

– Maiden flight: Unknown

– Height: 384 feet (117 metres)

– Lift: 130 metric tons

– Weight: 2.9 million kilograms (6.5 million lbs)

Using the lander, they will return to lunar orbit before ultimately heading home to Earth aboard Orion.

Work is progressing rapidly on the Gateway. NASA will integrate the first two components to launch – the power and propulsion element and the habitation and logistics outpost – in 2023. 

This foundation for the Gateway will be able to operate autonomously, conducting remote science experiments when astronauts are not aboard.  

While NASA has not made a final decision to use the Gateway for Artemis III, Artemis IV and beyond will send crew aboard Orion to dock to the Gateway, where two crew members can stay aboard the spaceship in orbit while two go to the surface. 

Over time, the outpost will evolve, with new modules added by international partners, allowing crew members to conduct increasingly longer lunar missions.

As detailed in the agency’s concept for surface sustainability earlier this year, an incremental buildup of infrastructure on the surface will follow later this decade, allowing for longer surface expeditions with more crew. 

That concept calls for an Artemis Base Camp that would include new rovers, power systems, habitats, and more on the surface for long-term exploration of the Moon.

Throughout the Artemis program, robots and humans will search for, and potentially extract, resources such as water that can be converted into other usable resources, including oxygen and fuel. 

By fine-tuning precision landing technologies as well as developing new mobility capabilities, astronauts will travel farther and explore new regions of the Moon. 

NASA is prepared to build and certify the initial spacesuits for the first trip to the lunar surface in 2024, as part of the Artemis III mission. 

After Artemis III, the agency plans to transition responsibility for production, assembly, testing, sustaining and maintenance of a fleet of flight and training spacesuits and associated hardware to US Industry.

This will then form part of any future missions to Mars as part of the Artemis Moon to Mars series of missions by the mid-2030s. 

NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis mission

Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. 

NASA has chosen her to personify its path back to the Moon, which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface by 2024 –  including the first woman and the next man.

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. 

Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  

Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed flight that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond. 

During this flight, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.

It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a three-week mission. 

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission

Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before. 

With this first exploration mission, NASA is leading the next steps of human exploration into deep space where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the Moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations farther from Earth, including Mars. 

The will take crew on a different trajectory and test Orion’s critical systems with humans aboard.

The SLS rocket will from an initial configuration capable of sending more than 26 metric tons to the Moon, to a final configuration that can send at least 45 metric tons. 

Together, Orion, SLS and the ground systems at Kennedy will be able to meet the most challenging crew and cargo mission needs in deep space.

Eventually NASA seeks to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.

The space agency hopes this colony will uncover new scientific discoveries, demonstrate new technological advancements and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy. 

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