NASA Wants to Return To The Moon by 2024, but The Spacesuits Will Not Be Ready
Click to enlarge the image and toggle caption Kevin Wolf/AP Kevin Wolf/AP
NASA will not be able to send astronauts to Mars by 2024 as planned, according to an internal watchdog. This is due to, among other things, their spacesuits not being ready.
NASA had stated that it would send astronauts to the moon by 2024. However, independent experts and NASA's acting administrator doubt that this timeline is realistic.
NASA's inspector general said in a report that a "lunar landing in the late 2024, as NASA currently plans, is impossible" due to delays in spacesuit design. According to the report, delays in spacesuit development are the result of a lack funding, the COVID-19 pandemic, and technical challenges. According to the inspector general, the April 2025 deadline for the launch of spacesuits is the earliest.
1972 was the last time humans reached the moon. The technology used by NASA astronauts to use spacesuits is also from that era.
NASA has been creating new spacesuits over the past 14 years. They have cost $420 millions so far. NASA is expected to invest $625 million more by 2025, when only two suits that are flight-ready will be available.
NASA will not reach the moon by 2024 if NASA doesn't use spacesuits. The delays in the Orion capsule, the Space Launch System rocket and the lunar lander are all factors that prevent NASA from reaching the moon as planned.
NASA selected SpaceX to construct its lunar lander in April for $2.9 billion. Blue Origin, a competitor, repeatedly objected to the contract, which was noted by the inspector general as causing delays.
On Thursday, the inspector general report was released. However, work on the lunar landing platform was again halted. This was due to Blue Origin's lawsuit.
Artemis' new moon landing is part its program. It specifically aims at including a woman or a person from color among those who will walk on the moon's surface. The Artemis mission will later establish a base camp for long-term exploration. This could be done in a matter of one to two months. NASA claims this will inform future Mars missions.
The original target date for the moon landing was 2028. However, it was moved forward by the Trump administration to 2019 by four years. NASA has not yet set a new official target date for the moon land.
NPR's spokesperson said that NASA is committed to sending the first woman and the first person of color to the Moon and creating a long-term presence there under Artemis. "The agency is currently evaluating the schedule and budget for Artemis missions, and will provide an update later in the year."