Don't let NASA fool you: The next astronauts on the moon will not be wearing black spacesuits
- NASA and Axiom Space revealed a new spacesuit for the Artemis moon missions last week.
- The spacesuit is black, but astronauts have to wear white when they're on the lunar surface.
NASA revealed a new prototype of the spacesuit destined to adorn the next astronauts on the moon. But the look is a little misleading.
In an event on March 15, NASA and its new spacesuit contractor, Axiom Space, walked out their first iteration of the uniform for the Artemis generation of lunar astronauts.
Called the "AxEMY Next Generation," it's the spacesuit that will protect the first astronauts to walk on the lunar surface since 1972 — including the first woman and the first person of color to set foot on the moon, as soon as 2025, according to NASA's plans.
The get-up includes new joints that will allow astronauts to move more easily than the Apollo spacesuits, and boots made for walking instead of hopping, for the first-ever human landing on the moon's frigid south pole.
But one defining feature overshadowed the others: color. Stylish stripes of orange and blue are laid across a dark suit, as black as the void of space.
The design echoes the sleek dark shine of SpaceX's Starship, the spacesuits in some sci-fi films, spacefaring Fortnite outfits, and other futuristic visions of cosmic exploration. But if an astronaut wore that on the moon, they'd be in serious danger.
When the first Artemis moonwalkers step out of Starship and onto the lunar surface, they'll be wearing this Axiom spacesuit, but it will be white.
Astronauts can't wear black on the moon
The Apollo moon suits were white for a reason.
In a harsh environment with no atmosphere to protect you from the sun's radiation, temperature management is key for survival. Spacesuits have to be reflective and well-insulated to keep astronauts cool in the unfiltered glare of the sun.
On the new prototype, "a cover layer is currently being used for display purposes only to conceal the suit's proprietary design," Axiom Space wrote in a press release.
The company designed the cover layer with Esther Marquis, costume designer for the Apple TV+ series "For All Mankind," which imagines what would happen if the space race had gone differently.
The real look of the spacesuit for the first Artemis mission remains a mystery for now.
"The white version will be provided directly to NASA. We are providing a fleet of training spacesuits to be delivered to NASA by late this summer," Axiom spokesperson Meridyth Moore told Insider in an email.
As for a public reveal of the true white suit, Moore said, "We don't have a current date, but that's something we will continue to collaborate with NASA on."
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