NASA had to postpone the flight to the Moon due to problems with spacesuits. According to an inspector general report released on August 10, their production is delayed due to technical issues and funding, The Verge reports.
It was originally planned that the new spacesuits would be ready for test flights to the International Space Station (ISS) no later than March 31, 2023.
However, due to funding problems, technological challenges, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the date had to be postponed to November 2024, the report says. It is now predicted that the suits will not be ready until April 2025 at the earliest.
The spacesuit for lunar missions as part of the Artemis program is called xEMU (Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit). It will consist of several different components and up to 16 layers of different materials. Each xEMU must be equipped with cooling and carbon removal systems, portable life support systems, etc.
This is not the only problem NASA's having with its Artemis lunar program, the audit from the agency's Office of Inspector General concluded. Similar delays are being observed in the development of the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft, which will carry the astronauts into space.
Some of these problems are influenced by the protests of private companies that did not get a contract to participate in the Artemis program. For instance, Blue Origin (owned by Jeff Bezos) and Dynetics are currently challenging NASA's decision to select Elon Musk's SpaceX as the only contractor to take part in the Artemis program.
After the publication of the report, Elon Musk said that he was ready to help with the development of spacesuits if necessary.