NASA announced that the spacesuits for the astronauts in the Moon mission wouldn't be available until 2026. This is the space agency's latest delay after it failed to launch the Space Launch System in April.

NASA Spacesuit Delay

The space agency's Office of Inspector General revealed that it would take $1 billion to manufacture two spacesuits.

The agency expects the suits to be ready by 2025 at the earliest, which means its original plan of going to the Moon in 2024 is not feasible, according to The Washington Post.

The last Moon mission was in 1972, and NASA wants to give it another go in 2024 under its Artemis program funded by the Trump administration.

The program, which former US Vice President Mike Pence previously led, gave a deadline of 2024.

However, President Biden's team stated that it was unrealistic. Current Vice President Kamala Harris is now in charge of NASA's Moon mission.

Also Read: NASA Celebrates 50 Years of the Apollo 15 Mission

NASA had already spent more than $420 million on space suits since 2007, even before the agency launched the Artemis program. The agency plans to invest $65 million more until 2025, according to CNN. 

The design of the spacesuit was tweaked repeatedly through the years as the agency's priorities changed between administrations.

A new spacesuit design explicitly made for Artemis called xEMU was revealed in 2019.

Meanwhile, the suits that astronauts on the International Space Station currently use are outdated.

The suits are not designed for walking on the Moon and are only suitable on the ISS.

NASA's Funding Issue

The xEMU program allotted 12 months of delay to improve the design of the suits, but the agency still held on to the 2024 deadline. However, the schedule margin disappeared after the agency suffered funding problems.

NASA centers were also forced to shut down in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it experienced numerous technical challenges, according to CNET.

The space agency deducted $59 million from its original $209 million budget after the US Congress gave it 77% of what it asked for its Gateway Program in 2021, under which the spacesuits for the astronauts are developed. It delayed the program for three more months.

Also, the closure of NASA's Johnson Space Center last year because of the pandemic caused three more months of delays.

Issues with the hardware also caused delays with the suit's Display and Control Unit due to design upgrades and other changes.

The circuit boards within a key part of the suit's life support system needed to be adjusted to ensure communications between the suits and the astronaut worked correctly.

NASA also stopped the testing for the suit's assembly process. The team encountered a component failure after one of the staff accidentally used the wrong specifications to create the suit's life support system interface.

When the auditors interviewed the personnel about the mistake, they blamed it on schedule pressure. Other factors included a communication breakdown among the team and the team's growth, including personnel who are not experienced enough.

Currently, 27 different entities are pitching in to create different parts of the spacesuit. NASA previously contracted with two companies, ILC Dover and Hamilton Standard, to make the spacesuits for the ISS too.

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Written by Sophie Webster

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