Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), leaders of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, sent a letter to NASA today requesting more accountability and information on the Agency’s spacesuit acquisition process. Specifically, the Members requested that NASA fully respond to recommendations that they finalize technical requirements for the spacesuits before moving ahead with issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) to procure the suits.
NASA is currently developing an advanced spacesuit to upgrade the aging suits used on the International Space Station (ISS). The new suits will also enable future missions under the Artemis program. Replacing the current spacesuits is a critical initiative, but funding shortfalls, technical challenges, and COVID-19 issues have caused serious delays. Additionally, NASA changed its acquisition approach for spacesuits in April, with the plan to issue technical requirements to industry and then purchase spacesuit services from commercial providers.
NASA’s Inspector General raised concerns with the acquisition process, noting that NASA has yet to clearly define the technical requirements for the spacesuits and, if it moves forward and awards a contract for the suits before doing so, it could result in even more delays and cost increases.