Unfortunately, NASA confirmed delays in their Artemis Program, the mission to return astronauts to the moon by 2024. One of the biggest reasons highlighted was the slow development of two flight-ready spacesuits that should scheduled to come out by November. Elon Musk surprisingly volunteered to make these spacesuits instead!
Taken from NASA's Final Report dated August 10, the Office of Inspector General estimated a 20-month delay for designing, verifying, and testing two flight-ready lunar suits. The delays were due to "funding shortfalls, COVID-19 impacts, and technical challenges." In conclusion, NASA spacesuits would be completed by April 2025 at the earliest.
Elon Musk Pitches to Make Spacesuits
CNBC reporter Michael Sheetz tweeted highlights of the report on his social media page, emphasizing the delay because of the spacesuit. However, everyone was surprised to see Musk suddenly respond with a comment, "SpaceX could do it if need be."
SpaceX could do it if need be— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 10, 2021
A subsequent tweet from Scheetz also highlighted that NASA's next-generation spacesuits have 27 different suppliers for components. Some companies identified are Aerospace Corporation, ARES corporation, Barrios, Jacobs Engineering, Logical Innovations, and S&K Global Solutions.
For this revelation, Musk made a bold comment saying, "Seems like too many cooks in the kitchen."
Seems like too many cooks in the kitchen— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 10, 2021
Although the context on Musk's tweets is open to reader's interpretation, many on the internet assume that he pitched SpaceX to be fully capable of creating the next-generation spacesuit for the moon mission.
SpaceX Spacesuits for Moon Landing
It is important to note that SpaceX has already designed their own spacesuit for the Dragon spacecraft, the company's reusable capsule that aims to transport people and cargo to space. YouTuber Everyday Astronaut posted a video analyzing this suit.
The suit has an ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) helmet attached directly to the one-piece spacesuit. The spacesuit is wearable through an airtight zipper at the back. The life support gear for this spacesuit is attached to the lower left thigh of the suit, which the YouTuber aptly described as a "femoral artery for how to breathe." The overall spacesuit is built with Teflon and Nomex materials, making them highly flexible.
The SpaceX spacesuits are not certified by NASA and have no internal pressure rating. Regardless, this spacesuit is designed for IVA (inter-vehicular activity), meaning astronauts can survive inside the suit in a situation when their spacecraft suddenly depressurizes.
NASA Moon Mission 2024: Artemis Mission Spacesuit
Even though SpaceX spacesuits look incredibly advanced, the suits for moon exploration will have many additional requirements. These suits should be capable of protecting its astronauts from all the harsh conditions in space.
According to The Hill, NASA's development of new spacesuits will amount to $1 billion through 2025. Company executives have agreed on "adjusting the schedule as appropriate to reduce development risks."
Unfortunately, whether or not Elon Musk contributes to developing these new spacesuits, the Artemis Mission for 2024 is set to be pushed back by a few years.