No, NASA’s Artemis spacesuits won’t be black


NASA unveiled the prototype of spacesuit that will be used for Artemis missions and it sported a striking black and orange colour scheme

Axiom Space chief engineer Jim Stein, left, bumps fists with deputy manager for extravehicular activity Russell Ralston while demonstrating a prototype spacesuit, Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

NASA on March 17 unveiled the prototype for what will be the next generation of spacesuits, which will be worn by Artemis astronauts who travel to the Moon’s surface. Apart from the sleek nature of the spacesuits one feature really catches your eye–its black colour.

The spacesuit is called the Axion Extravehicular Mobility Unit (AxEMU), and apart from incorporating the latest technologies, it provides enhanced mobility and added protection from the dangers of being on the Moon.

It presents a stark contrast to the white suits famously worn by Neil Armstrong and other Apollo astronauts half a century ago. It is more form-fitting and allows for mobility. According to the Washington Post, the suits are designed to be more nimble while also being more suited to different body types. But are they going to keep the black and orange colour scheme?

Why the colour of the Artemis spacesuit matters

In short, no. During the Artemis missions, the spacesuits will not have the signature black and orange colour scheme that was displayed during the reveal

The Moon technically has an atmosphere, but it is nowhere near as thick as the one on Earth. This, combined with the fact that it has no ozone layer like on our planet, means that astronauts on Earth’s lone satellite will have no protection from the Sun’s harmful radiation apart from the space suit that they are wearing.

This is why spacesuits have to be reflective and well-insulated; they need to protect the astronauts from the Sun’s radiation while they work on the Moon.

As we learned during science class in school, the colour black absorbs nearly all spectra of radiation, while the colour white reflects nearly all of it. This is why the new AxEMU spacesuits will be white when the final production version is revealed. Axiom themselves have confirmed this.

Axiom’s AxEMU spacesuit prototype features a stunning black and orange colour scheme. (Axiom Space)

“Since a spacesuit worn on the Moon must be white to reflect heat and protect astronauts from extremely high temperatures, a cover layer is currently being used for display purposes only to conceal the suit’s proprietary design,” says Axiom’s press release from day that the new suits were revealed.

Interestingly, the prototype spacesuit revealed earlier this month was designed in collaboration with Esther Marquis, the costume designer for the Apple TV series “For All Mankind,” which explores the alternate history that might have been true if the global space race had continued. The cover on the prototype spacesuit incorporates the company’s logo and its brand colours.

What will the real Artemis spacesuits look like?

How the real Artemis spacesuits will look remains a mystery, at least for now. The only thing we can say for sure is that it wil probably be white.

“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,” said Meridyth Moore, Axiom spokesperson, to Insider in an email.

Moore also told insider that the date for the public reveal of the actual white suit hasn’t been decided.

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