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NASA Has a New Challenge To Reaching the Moon by 2024: Its $1 Billion Spacesuit Program

Despite working on next-generation suits for years, they won’t be ready until 2025 at the earliest, an inspector general determined. From a report: Ever since the White House directed NASA to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 as part of its Artemis program, there have been all sorts of daunting challenges: The rocket the space agency would use has suffered setbacks and delays; the spacecraft that would land astronauts on the surface is not yet completed and was held up by the losing bidders; and Congress hasn’t come through with the funding NASA says is necessary. But another reason the 2024 goal may not be met is that the spacesuits needed by the astronauts to walk on the lunar surface won’t be ready in time and the total development program, which ultimately will produce just two flight-ready suits, could cost more than $1 billion.

The NASA Inspector General said in a report Tuesday that the suits have been delayed by almost two years because of funding shortfalls, impacts from the coronavirus pandemic and technical challenges. As a result, the government watchdog concluded that the suits would not be ready until 2025 at the earliest and that “a lunar landing in late 2024 as NASA currently plans is not feasible.” NASA has been working on next-generation spacesuits, which act as mini spaceships that protect the astronauts from the vacuum of space, for 14 years, the IG said. In 2016, NASA decided to consolidate two spacesuit designs into a single program that it would oversee. By 2017, the agency had spent $200 million and since then has spent an additional $220 million, the IG found. While it took the program in-house, parts for the suits are still supplied by 27 contractors.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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