Space – Elon Musk Pitches Cheaper Spacesuit for NASA Following Delays
Welcome to Thomas Insights — every day, we publish the latest news and analysis to keep our readers up to date on what’s happening in industry. Sign up here to get the day’s top stories delivered straight to your inbox.
NASA’s much-publicized Project Artemis has hit a setback, with new reports suggesting that the agency’s efforts to send an astronaut to the moon will most certainly be delayed — and the reason has everything to do with spacesuits.
The agency’s Office of Inspector General recently conducted an audit that revealed NASA’s efforts to redesign its spacesuits have hit enough snags that they are a full two years behind their original schedule. This puts the suits, which are designed for a gender-neutral fit and allow for greater safety and mobility, out of commission for a planned Moon Mission target of 2024.
There’s more. The suits — which haven’t had a redesign in 45 years — are not only behind schedule, they’re also over budget.
According to reports, NASA has already spent $420 million on space suit development since 2007 and will need to invest $600 million more. Seeing the budget balloon past a billion dollars was enough to provoke a response from other industry stakeholders, in this case, Elon Musk.
After CNBC space reporter Michael Sheetz tweeted about the delays and their associated costs, Musk responded, saying: “SpaceX could do it if need be.”
Could they? Musk’s space exploration company SpaceX is widely known for bucking some traditions, including its use of recycled rockets to cut costs. That said, the space suits SpaceX currently uses, according to CNBC, are designed more for inside the cabin environment. Making them work on the moon would be one giant step for Elon Musk.
And in NASA’s defense, many of the delays were caused by events out of the agency’s control. The Inspector General said those include “funding shortfalls, COVID-19 impacts, and technical challenges.” As for Musk, he seems to think that streamlining the 27 suppliers involved in the current suit’s design would be a benefit, saying in a separate Tweet there seem to be “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
A NASA spokesperson told CNBC that Musk should note the agency’s recent request for feedback from space industry companies, asking for their input on commercial space suit purchases, hardware, and services.
Image Credit: Thomas Industry Update