NASA's International Space Station spacesuits were created in the 1970s. These suits were made for the space shuttle. Owing to a shortage of money, NASA repaired and maintained them for years.
Pablo De León, head of the University of North Dakota's Human Spaceflight Laboratory, adds, "But basically, these are suits that are near the end of their practical life."
NASA has had trouble fitting its increasingly diverse astronaut corps and degrading certain suit components.
Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies company, are now the agency's commercial partners.
Until 2034, NASA is giving Collins, Axiom, and their commercial partners up to $3.5 billion under the Exploration Extravehicular Activity Services Contract, or xEVAS.
Collins got the second $97.2 million contract to design and create a new generation of International Space Station suits,
while Axiom earned the first $228.5 million contract to design NASA's Artemis moon suits. As Collins and Axion are providing NASA's suits as a service,
They may also construct suits for non-NASA clients.The functional requirements for these two outfits are fairly similar, which is the beauty of this deal.
We could ask either of those contractors to start working on the other platform at any time.We also have what we call an on-ramp provision in the contract, which means if another firm comes into play,
and they have the competence to compete, we can actually bring them on to the contract and enable them to compete on task orders.”
Kearney said continuing competition incentivizes contractors to execute on cost and time, which lowers government costs.