It’s one spacesuit, NASA. What could it cost? A billion dollars?
Well, apparently: yes. In an audit report out of NASA this morning, inspectors found that in their quest to launch another human-led Moon landing in 2024, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has already spent $420 million developing new spacesuits for the journey, and anticipate spending $625 million more. “The development of new spacesuits is a critical component of achieving NASA’s goals of returning humans to the Moon, continuing safe operations on the International Space Station (ISS), and exploring Mars and other deep space locations,” the report reads. Even so, the new suits won’t be “ready for flight until April 2025 at the earliest.”
NASA’s xEVA Project is designing and manufacturing the next-gen suits in-house, expanding upon design work they’ve been conducting since 2007 and the current extravehicular suit that NASA and ILC Dover developed in 1990. The new suit, called xEMU, will be geared out with top-notch technology including cameras, lights, and a life-support subsystem. The suit’s various components will be supplied by 27 different vendors, which SpaceX’s Elon Musk has already characteristically hopped on Twitter to criticize.
Bold talk coming from the guy behind the boxy, trend-adverse SpaceX suits unveiled last year. It’s hard to tell yet if the xEMU suits will be much cooler than those, or the bright blue, Tron-adajent ones that billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos sported during their recent jaunts to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. (God, what a bleak sentence to type.) They probably couldn’t be much cooler, because for what I can only assume are vital safety reasons, they are not sleek, and definitely have that MTV Moonman silhouette going on. Ultimately, their purpose is not to allow astronauts to stunt in space. But no matter how it looks, isn’t a ten-figure spacesuit still kind of the ultimate grail? That is, if and when it ever comes to production.
Don’t fret, though. Musk also chimed in to assure everyone that “SpaceX could do it if need be.”
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