NASA has chosen Houston-based Axiom Space to build the moon spacesuits for the Artemis 3 mission, which intends to land astronauts near the lunar south pole in 2025 or 2026.
Axiom Space will be in charge of the design, development, qualification, certification, and production of its Artemis 3 spacesuits and support equipment.
"NASA is proud to partner with commercial industry on this historic mission that will kickstart the United States building a lasting presence on the surface of the moon," Lara Kearney, manager of NASA's Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility program, said in a statement.
"What we learn on Artemis 3 and future missions on and around the moon will pave the way for missions to Mars," Kearney added. "Spacesuits enable us to literally take that next step."
If all goes according to plan, Artemis 3 will perform the first crewed lunar landing since the final Apollo flight in 1972. By the end of the 2020s, NASA plans to establish a crewed outpost on Earth's nearest neighbor as part of its Artemis mission.
NASA established the technological and safety specifications for the following generation of spacesuits using more than 50 years of spacesuit experience.
NASA announced in June of this year that it has chosen Axiom and a team led by Collins Aerospace to develop and build spacesuits for future moon and International Space Station missions. The two private teams have gained the chance to compete for up to $3.5 billion in prize money through 2034.
The money will be distributed through a series of "task orders." one of which is the newly announced Artemis 3 award, which has a base value of $228.5 million.
"NASA experts will maintain the authority for astronaut training, mission planning, and approval of the service systems," they added. "Axiom Space will be required to test the suits in a spacelike environment before Artemis 3."
According to NASA officials, a future task order will involve more crewed Artemis missions.
There haven't been any Artemis missions launched by NASA yet, but that should change shortly. The agency is gearing up for the next launch attempt of Artemis 1, which will carry the agency's Orion capsule on an uncrewed trip to lunar orbit and back.
On Aug. 29 and Sept.3, NASA attempted to launch Artemis 1, but both efforts were scrubbed owing to technical difficulties. The agency has not yet specified a date for the next attempt.