An inspector at NASA argued that the space agency has spent a lot of money on an inferior spacesuit. When NASA started developing a spaceship to help humans go back to the Moon about ten years ago on a mission which was part of the Constellation Program, the space agency began thinking about the types of spacesuits needed when astronauts will deploy deep space missions.
- NASA inspector Paul Martin developed a report where he criticizes NASA’s decisions regarding the Constellation spacesuit contract.
- NASA leaders refused to cancel the contract after Obama cancelled the Constellation program.
- The space agency spent $ 80.6 million before the contract with Oceaneering was closed.
Then, in 2009, NASA signed a contract with Oceaneering International, Inc. which was valued at $148 million. The company was bound to develop a spacesuit suitable for deep space journeys. Nevertheless, in 2010, President Obama canceled NASA’s Constellation program. Later in 2010, officials at the Johnson Space Center advised the cancellation of the Constellation spacesuit contract due to the fact that the space agency had a team of engineers working on developing new spacesuits.
Nevertheless, the Houston leaders were dismissed by leaders at NASA’s headquarters in DC. On April 25, a new report was released by Paul Martin, NASA’s Inspector General, who criticized the decision. The report indicated that the contract’s continuation was not suitable for the space agency’s developmental efforts for spacesuit technology. Moreover, the new report unveiled that NASA had, in fact, spent $80.6 million on the collaboration with Oceaneering before the contract ended in 2016.
NASA leaders informed the inspector general that they decided to continue the contract due to the fact that their wish was to preserve industry involved in the design of spacesuits. However, the new report overturns this idea, pointing out that the Advanced Space Suit Project had common subcontractors and contractors with Oceaneering.
The new report also revealed that several in-house designs and concepts at NASA were more advanced that the ones stated under the contract with Oceaneering. For instance, a previous study uncovered that the Rapid Cycle Amine swing bed has a more advanced design compared to the Constellation project. The swing bed was used in the Advanced Space Suit Project.
William Gerstenmaier, the chief of human spaceflight at NASA, said in a written response to the inspector general that the new report tends to over-criticize the decisions made by the space agency and representatives do not approve of the idea that the facts which were presented to the OIG sustain that part of the report. NASA was also said to use inferior spacesuit, this being part of the ISS program for spacewalks. Gerstenmaier claimed that NASA leaders would analyze whether the agency needs to be improved spacesuits and will soon report back.
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