NASA seems to be running out of space suits for astronauts, according to a new report by the space agency‘s auditor, NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).
In spite of NASA having spent close to $200 million on developing new space suits, the report says the space agency is still years away from having flight-ready suits. “As different missions require different designs, the lack of a formal plan and specific destinations for future missions has complicated spacesuit development” the report says. “Moreover, the Agency has reduced the funding dedicated to spacesuit development in favor of other priorities such as an in-space habitat.”
Functioning spacesuits needed for missions are also running low, says the OIG, which worries that there won’t be enough suits to last through the end of the ISS program, scheduled to be in 2024.
“Only 11 of the 18 original EMU Primary Life Support System units—a backpack-like structure that performs a variety of functions required to keep an astronaut alive during a spacewalk—are still in use,” the report says. “Raising concerns that the inventory may not be adequate to last through the planned retirement of the ISS.”