NASA has selected two companies, Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace, to make spacesuits for its moon program and future International Space Station (ISS) missions. They will replace the current suits that were made 40 years ago, reported Agence France Press (AFP).
"History will be made with the suits when we get to the Moon. We will have our first person of color and our first woman that will be wearers and users of these suits in space," Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston told reporters. NASA originally wanted to build the suits itself but was facing significant development delays.
The cooperation with the two companies comes in line with the agency’s decision to establish partnerships between the public and the private sector. “This policy aims at saving some costs, as NASA has joint investments with companies from the private sector,” explained Wyche.
The values of the contracts have not yet been announced but they have a combined ceiling of $3.5 billion through 2034.
NASA could end up picking both companies, just one, or add more companies later. Once the suits are complete, though, the companies will own them and be responsible for their maintenance. Axiom Space, which already sent two tourists to the International Space Station on a SpaceX mission, plans to build its own space station, which means it’s going to need to develop its own space suits for future customers.
“We have already planned to design our own space suits for our program, so, it will be great to help NASA in this field,” said the company’s CEO Mike Suffredini. The US space agency laid out the technical standards of the suits that will be used to move on the Moon, and in the low orbit surrounding the International Space Station.