Apr 28, 2017 08:33 AM EDT
According to a new report from the space agency, there is currently a shortage of NASA spacewalking suits. Despite the funding directed to new technology, the replacement suits remains years away. NASA's Office of Inspector General said there may not be enough spacesuits to make it through 2024, which is the year when the International Space Station is expected to end its operational life under NASA and the other international agencies.
About $200 million has been redirected in technology and better results were expected. NASA may be running out of good quality spacesuits called extravehicular mobility units (EMUs), which are designed to keep astronauts safe during spacewalks.
Mashable reported that NASA's OIG report said that only 11 out of the 18 original EMU Primary Life Support System units are still in use. This raises concerns that the inventory may not be adequate to last through the planned retirement of the ISS. The EMU Primary Life Support System unit is a backpack-like structure that performs a variety of functions required to keep an astronaut alive during a spacewalk.
Analysts have expressed the need to establish a next-generation suit for spacewalking astronauts because of space trips that will be made in the future. Mars is the target planet for the moment as it showcases a great potential to support life.
The PC-Tablet reported there has been a lack of formal plan that has affected the development of the suits. NASA is closely looking into the new design and its associated health risks that the different astronauts need to use. There are about 3,400 minor issues with the spacewalking suits both in orbit and ground testing since it was developed in the 1970s.
According to NASA the next spacewalk is set on May 12. Speculations have arisen with regard to significant incidents with the suits that may cause alarm. In 2013, an Italian astronaut experienced near drowning when the water from his cooling system was rising up and flooded the helmet. Glove damage and stinging eyes are among other incidents suggesting better strategizing needs to be done to ensure safety of the spacemen.
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