NASA has selected two private US-based companies — Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace — to develop next-generation spacesuit and spacewalk systems to work outside the International Space Station, explore the lunar surface on Artemis missions, and prepare for human missions to Mars.

The companies received access to a contract worth up to a total of $3.5 billion to supply spacesuits for future NASA missions through 2034, agency officials announced in a statement.

“With these awards, NASA and our partners will develop advanced, reliable spacesuits that allow humans to explore the cosmos unlike ever before,” said Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, in the statement.

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“By partnering with industry, we are efficiently advancing the necessary technology to keep Americans on a path of successful discovery on the International Space Station and as we set our sights on exploring the lunar surface,” Wyche added.

The first task orders to be completed under the contract will include the development and services for the first demonstration outside the space station in low-Earth orbit and for the Artemis III lunar landing.

The companies will be responsible for the design, development, qualification, certification, and production of spacesuits and support equipment to enable space station and Artemis missions.

NASA designed the contract to endure and evolve with the needs of the agency and space industry.

The new suits will replace the agency’s extravehicular mobility units (EMUs), two generations of which have been produced since 1983 to serve space shuttle and ISS missions.

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With the Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon and establish long-term exploration in preparation for missions to Mars.