According to a new assessment from NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), landing people on the moon by the agency’s optimistic timetable of 2024 is “not viable” due to predicted delays in spacesuit development.
NASA’s Inspector General has examined the agency’s production of next-generation spacesuits, known as the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit, in a new report released by the OIG’s Office of Audits on Tuesday (August 10). (xEMU). The suits will be worn and utilized as a part of NASA’s Artemis mission, which is expected to return humans to the lunar surface by the year 2024, according to the agency. That deadline, however, is not just unlikely, but also unattainable, according to this assessment.
“NASA’s current plan calls for the first 2 flight-ready xEMUs to be completed by November 2024,” the audit states, “but the agency faces considerable obstacles in attaining this target.” “A lunar landing in late 2024 as NASA now proposes is not viable,” it continues, citing predicted delays in spacesuit development.
The audit was conducted by the OIG because, according to the report, “the advancement of new flight suits is a vital part of accomplishing NASA’s objectives of trying to return humans to the moon, ongoing safe operations on International Space Station (ISS), and discovering Mars as well as other deep space locations.” Inspectors “evaluated the degree to which NASA is addressing difficulties relating to the next-generation spacesuit system’s cost, schedule, and performance” during the audit.
The spacesuits now in use by astronauts on the International Space Station were crafted 45 years ago for NASA’s space shuttle program, as well as the audit underlines that developing new suits is vital for the effectiveness and security of upcoming space missions and programs. As a result, NASA has been working on this next-generation successor for the last 14 years.
However, roadblocks in the development of these suits may put NASA’s ambitious lunar goals on wait; one major roadblock is funding. “Despite spending roughly $200 million on the extravehicular spacesuit production over the preceding nine years, we reported in 2017 that NASA was still years away from producing a flight-ready spacesuit for use on exploratory missions. NASA has spent an extra $220 million on spacesuit development since our 2017 report, bringing the total to $420 million “According to the audit,
While NASA plans to invest an additional $625.2 million in the construction of these suits, increasing the total cost to more than $1 billion, the OIG still believes NASA will not be able to reach its current optimistic timeline of a 2024 lunar landing.
The audit reveals that, in addition to a slew of fiscal difficulties, the timeline involves a 20-month gap in designing, validating, and testing the suits, as well as the creation of two “qualifying suits,” a space station demonstration suit, as well as two lunar flight suits.