NASA's next-gen spacesuits will give astronauts more freedom to move on the moon

All that blooper footage of Apollo astronauts falling over in their bulky suits may be a thing of the past.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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This illustration give an idea of how mobile the new spacesuits will be.


You're probably responsible for at least a few of the 11 million views of this Apollo astronaut moon blooper reel on YouTube. The video montage highlights the silly side of space exploration, which involved NASA's finest flopping about on the lunar surface in their bulky, awkward spacesuits.

The next generation of NASA moon explorers should be able to move a lot more smoothly in the low-gravity environment thanks to significant advances in spacesuit technology. NASA highlighted some of these changes this week.

Watch this: Apollo 11: 50 years on and still just as weird

"Bunny-hopping Apollo astronauts are fun to watch, but the exertion required to move around that way was more than NASA would have liked for their explorers who were 250,000 miles from home," the space agency said in a release.

The new suits will allow for greater joint rotation and flexibility at the hips and knees. The hiking-inspired boots will have flexible soles. Redesigned shoulders will allow astronauts to lift objects over their heads and fully rotate their arms all the way to the wrist.

The next-generation suits will look similar to those astronauts wear for spacewalks on the International Space Station. NASA plans to take 3D body scans of astronauts and then mix and match modular spacesuit components for a custom fit.   

NASA hopes to return humans to the moon in 2024 with its Artemis mission. That's an ambitious timeline for a program that has struggled with delays

The space agency intends to build the first of these new spacesuits itself before handing the production off to private industry. The outfits should give astronauts much more comfort and mobility on the moon. We may have to live without an Artemis blooper reel, but that's a worthy trade-off. 

Beyond Apollo: See NASA aim for the moon with Artemis 2024

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Originally published Oct. 10, 8:49 a.m. PT.