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How much do astronaut suits cost?  NASA invested a billion dollars in this

How much do astronaut suits cost? NASA invested a billion dollars in this

It may seem that .’s spacesuits NASA It has hardly changed since then Neil Armstrong Humanity has taken that big, small step on the moon, but it turns out that the space agency is spending a lot of money on its development. In fact, the staggering amount of 1 billion dollars.

In an August 10 audit report, NASA’s inspector general noted that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has spent $420 million developing spacesuits since 2007. In addition, NASA plans to invest approximately $625 million. Another million on next-generation spacesuits, bringing the total spending up to 10 figures.

New NASA astronaut suits

With a portion of that large sum, NASA is working on two spacesuits ready for the Artemis program that will include a manned mission to the Moon in 2024.

Dubbed the Extra-Vehicle Mobility Exploration Unit (xEMU), it will be equipped with the latest and greatest technology that could save a billion dollars, including cameras, lights and a life support system. Each team consists of many different components that will be supplied by 27 different contractors and suppliers.

Kristen Davis, spacesuit engineer at NASA Johnson Space Center, with a ground-based xEMU prototype.
NASA/Joel Kosky

While the report stressed the importance of the new spacesuits as a “critical component” of NASA’s upcoming lunar mission, it also highlighted the fact that the agency has been criticized for lack of funding, technical challenges and the pandemic. .

In fact, the report claims that the current approach to developing astronauts’ suits will make a lunar landing impossible in 2024. According to the current schedule, the lawsuits will arrive nearly two years late and won’t be ready to fly until April 2025 at the earliest.

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The results didn’t go unnoticed by a billionaire space enthusiast. Elon Musk was quick to offer SpaceX services to help NASA manufacture spacesuits, tweeting: “SpaceX can do this if needed.”

astronaut suits
Artist’s concept of an astronaut wearing a XEMU spacesuit.

The Tesla CEO also tweeted that he will be involving 27 different entities in building the suits, “It looks like there are way too many chefs in the kitchen.” NASA previously hired only two companies, Hamilton Standard and ILC Dover, to build the suits it is currently using on the International Space Station.

In response to the report, Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Department of Exploration and Human Operations, said the agency intends to review its astronaut suit development program and test equipment on the International Space Station until June 2022, ahead of the first Artemis mission in 2023.

Note previously published in Robb Report USA