NASA’s new space suits are delayed, so a fall to 2024 is not possible


The development of NASA’s new astronaut space suits is nearly two years late and will not attempt to count people to the Moon by 2024, the inspector’s report released Tuesday. These delays add to the daunting schedule challenges already faced by NASA — from developing a new human-estimated moon counter to getting a massive Space Launch System rocket off the ground.

According to an audit by the Agency ‘s Chief Surveillance Authority, NASA plans to spend more than $ 1 billion on the development of space suits when the first two suits are completed, at the earliest in April 2025. report said. “Given these expected delays in the development of space suits, the moon’s landing is not possible by the end of 2024, according to NASA’s plans.”

NASA is trying to bring astronauts to the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972 under the Artemis program created by the Trump administration in 2019. A program set by former Vice President Mike Pence called for the crew to land on the moon in 2024 – deadline for President Biden’s transition team considered unrealistic. But NASA is still embracing the date, and administrator Bill Nelson is referring to the delays, probably because “The space is hard.”

NASA has already spent $ 420 million on space costume development since 2007, before the launch of its Artemis program, and plans to “invest about $ 625.2 million more” by 2025, the report says. The design and purpose of the space suit have changed repeatedly over the years as NASA’s space priorities are between the new administrations. A new Artemis-customized space suit, called xEMU, was was unveiled in 2019. The current costumes that astronauts wear at the International Space Station are restrictive, has not been updated for decades, and are not designed for long walks Hear.

The XEMU program anticipated a delay in development by giving 12 months leeway on its path to meet the 2024 Artemis deadline. However, the report found that the scheduling margin has already disappeared after NASA faced funding shortfalls, closures at NASA headquarters during the COVID-19 pandemic, and increased technical challenges. NASA cut the planned $ 209 million budget for the space costume program by $ 59 million after Congress gave the agency 77 percent of what it asked for in its Gateway program in 2021, under which space costumes will be developed. This set the program back three months, the report said.


Kristina Davis, NASA’s space suit engineer, will model a prototype of the agency’s new lunar space suit in 2019.
Photo: Xinhua / Liu Jie via Getty Images

According to the report, the intermittent closure of NASA’s Johnson Space Center during the pandemic caused delays of at least three months. Then there were hardware problems. Design updates and other changes caused production problems for the costume display and control unit – display astronauts use the costume’s critical functions. Circuit boards, which were a central part of the costume life support system, needed to be “reprocessed” to ensure a connection between the costume and the astronaut – and other astronauts.

The program hit another delay when NASA suspended testing of the suit assembly process. The team caused an undefined “component failure” when “staff used incorrect specifications to build a complex” life support system interface. When inspectors interviewed NASA staff about this club, they blamed, among other things, schedule pressure. Other factors included a “communication breakdown between the team” and the rapid growth of the team, “including inexperienced staff.” The “unpublished drawing” and the old hardware used during the tests were also to blame, staff told inspectors.

The report notes that 27 different parties are currently working to build different parts of the space suit. NASA previously contracted only two companies, Hamilton Standard and ILC Dover, to build the space suits it currently uses on the ISS.

“It looks like there are too many cooks in the kitchen,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk commented on Twitter in response to the news, adding in another tweet, “SpaceX could do it if needed.” It is unclear whether SpaceX has an active space suit development program; government astronauts who have flown the company’s Crew Dragon capsule wear spacecraft designed by SpaceX, not long-lasting spacesuits. Some private companies are already planning to design their own space suits, including Axiom Space, which released this month new jobs for space suit engineers.

NASA’s space suit problems are not the only threat to its 2024 goal. The Agency’s Chief Inspector, the Government Accountability Agency and NASA’s Aerospace Safety Panel have all expressed concern that the delay in the development of NASA’s human lunar landing and space launch systems – the core organs of the Artemis program – will make the 2024 landing nearly impossible. The safety panel raises fears that an accelerated landing date could put schedule pressure on engineers.

In response to the report, NASA’s human search chief Kathy Lueders said the agency plans to change its space suit development schedule and conduct a space suit test on the ISS by June 2022 before the first crew Artemis mission is completed sometime in 2023. In this mission, astronauts fly around the moon moon landing. The next mission, Artemis III, lands on the Moon.

“Demonstration and testing [the space suits] The ISS is a priority, ”Lueders said.

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