Nasa has had to delay its plans for a manned mission to the moon because its spacesuit development is running behind schedule.
Have you ever really wanted to go for a night out, but thought better of it after inspecting your lacklustre wardrobe? Then you’ll know exactly how they feel at Nasa, because the space agency has conceded that its spacesuits are not up to the task of a manned mission to the moon by 2024.
The only difference between those examples is that Nasa has spent $420 million (~£300 million) over the past fourteen years on developing extravehicular spacesuits, and I’ve spent far more money than that on putrid-patterned shirts.
Nasa’s revelation came courtesy of a report from the agency, which was intended to explain the expense that the programme has cost up to this point, and why the target of a November 2024 delivery is still beyond its grasp: reasons include “budget reductions, ongoing COVID-19 impacts, and technical problems.”
The report admits that, once these problems are ironed out, “the suits would not be ready for flight until April 2025 at the earliest.” As for the budget, it is added: “by the time two flight-ready xEMUs are available, NASA will have spent over a billion dollars on the development and assembly of its next-generation spacesuits.”
SpaceX could do it if need be— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 10, 2021
Never a stranger to the limelight, space tycoon Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, offered his services, saying that his company could manufacture the spacesuits “if need be”, but we’re yet to discover whether or not he’ll be taken up on his offer.
Nasa’s planned return to the moon, over fifty years since Neil Armstrong touched down on the lunar surface, would represent another crowning achievement for the space agency — but that only forms one stage of the Artemis mission, the eventual goal of which is for a human to set foot on Mars.