Space suit shortage haunts NASA's deep-space missions
Washington : NASA appears to be ill prepared to have a new space suit ready for future deep-space missions, media reported citing the space agency's auditor report.
The spacesuits NASA astronauts currently use on the International Space Station (ISS) -- known as Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMU) -- were developed more than 40 years ago and have far outlasted their original 15-year design life.
"Despite spending nearly $200 million on NASA's next-generation spacesuit technologies, the Agency remains years away from having a flight-ready spacesuit capable of replacing the EMU or suitable for use on future exploration missions," NASA Office of Inspector General's Office of Audits said in the report.
"As different missions require different designs, the lack of a formal plan and specific destinations for future missions has complicated spacesuit development. Moreover, the Agency has reduced the funding dedicated to spacesuit development in favour of other priorities such as an in-space habitat," the report said.
Meanwhile, NASA seems to be running out of the space suits it does have for the astronauts on the ISS. Only a fraction of the original space suit supply for the station is fully functional right now, and NASA may risk not having enough space suits to last through the end of the ISS programme, currently scheduled for 2024, The Verge reported on Thursday.