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NASA's spacesuits are getting a makeover — the first since the '80s

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Fifty years after NASA's last mission sending astronauts to the moon, the space agency is now preparing to put a crew back on the lunar surface in 2025.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And the Artemis III astronauts will have new spacesuits for the occasion. It's NASA's first makeover of its in-space apparel in decades.

CARLY MEGINNIS: This spacesuit, from the outside, is probably going to look a lot like what people are used to seeing a spacesuit look like.

MARTÍNEZ: OK. But inside, NASA engineer Carly Meginnis says the crews that suit up will discover a big difference.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARK GREELEY: And now, the moment you've all been waiting for.

(CHEERING)

MARTÍNEZ: In a demonstration of the new suit, an engineer does squats and bends down to pick up a rock.

MEGINNIS: So we want the person to be able to go about and do their job, do their science, do their mission without being hindered by the suit. So the intention is that the new suit enables enhanced mobility, wider range of motion, more suit flexibility.

MARTIN: Space historian Andrew Chaikin says the next-generation suit is also a lot sleeker than the old model.

ANDREW CHAIKIN: The Apollo spacesuits had kind of a bulky look to them, a lot of connectors for the oxygen hoses sticking out at various places, things like that.

MARTÍNEZ: NASA's partner, the commercial aerospace company Axiom Space, came up with a display model that's black with orange and blue details. I've got a velvet tracksuit that looks just like that. Now, the real suit will be white to reflect heat and protect astronauts from temperature extremes in space.

CHAIKIN: Really, a spacesuit is like a wearable spacecraft.

MARTIN: And one Artemis astronaut will make history in the new spacesuit for the project's third mission. NASA plans to send the first woman and the first person of color on the 240,000-mile journey to the moon and back.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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