Space is hard

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Spacesuits are not only a classic icon of human space exploration and imagination, they are also a personalized spaceship that mimics all of the protections from the harsh environment of space and the basic resources that Earth and its atmosphere provide. Yesterday, I joined NASA’s Social Media team at its headquarters in Washington D.C. at its launch event for the next generation space suits that will be worn by astronauts on the Artemis Missions and the return of human beings on the moon in 2024. In attendance were members of the media, press, and students from schools in the DC metropolis area.

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The new suit that will be worn on Artemis missions is called the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or xEMU for short. According to NASA, its history is a tale of engineering evolution, traced all the way back to the Mercury space suits that were once upgraded Navy high-altitude flight suits. The space suit engineers from NASA Johnson Space Center Lindsay Atchinson, Amy Ross, Kristine Davis who modeled the xEMU suit, and Dustin Gohmert the Orion OCSS suit were also in attendance and spoke of their capabilities. The suit is designed for high risk situations and emergencies like extreme temperatures and pressure variations so that astronauts will be able to accomplish more complex tasks on the lunar South Pole in 2024. The suit was designed not just as clothing and protective gear, but also function as a personalized life-sustaining spacecraft during EVA’s, also known as spacewalks.

The Orion OCSS orange flight suit will be worn by astronauts to the moon as well as on the return journey, from launch to high-speed re-entry to Earth. The suit is also designed for high rise situations with upgrades that include advanced mobility, enhanced communications systems and protection from extreme temperatures with its fire resistant material. It can keep an astronaut alive for up to six hours, an hour longer than previous generations spacesuits.

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As we embark on the first all-female spacewalk in history this week, we were reminded by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine that Apollo had a twin sister and her name was Artemis. She was hunter and her best friend and favorite companion was Orion. All astronauts in their return voyage to the moon will fly under the Artemis Mission inside the Orion capsule and this week, we will witness history in the making where women for the first time intentionally right in the forefront of the journey from Moon to Mars.

This is Artemis. #SuitUp

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