New Materials for Lunar Mission Space Suits

    Dr.-Ing. Sibylle Schmied

    Head of Testing Technologies, Small-Series Production, Prototype Construction

    T +49 (0)711 93 40-383

The European Space Agency ESA launches the project "PEXTEX"

PEXTEX is a two-year project which has as objective to identify potential materials and textiles that could be used for future lunar mission space suits.

On January 17th, 2019, ESA signed the study contract with COMEX and its partners DITF and OeWF.

The objective of the project is not only to develop solutions based on existing space suit materials, but also to identify novel types of textiles that include additional functionalities such as self-healing capacity, lunar dust repulsive characteristics or textiles that are able to monitor their structural integrity.

The identification and test of such materials could serve the development of future European space suits for extravehicular activities (EVA) on the lunar surface and is in line with ESA’s exploration strategy to return to the Moon in the coming decades.

Future missions will aim to establish a permanent presence on the Moon and new space suits need to be conceived to withstand surface operations that are longer and more frequent than in the Apollo era.

A new era of human space exploration is about to begin: 50 years after the first landing of human astronauts on the Moon, ESA and its international partners are working on a return of humans to the Moon with the development of the GATEWAY, the future space station in lunar orbit. This station will serve as “base camp” to perform robotic and human missions to the surface.

The materials that will be identified in the frame of the PEXTEX project will be tested in test facilities with the partner organizations in France, Germany and Austria.