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After years of futility, NASA turns to private sector for spacesuit help [EN]

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Un articolo di Ars Technica dell’ottobre 2021 parla della decisione della NASA di affidarsi ai privati per le nuove tute spaziali:

This week NASA’s Johnson Space Center issued a call to industry for new spacesuits. The space agency’s existing suits are decades old, and new ones are needed both for the International Space Station as well as Artemis missions to the lunar surface later this decade.
[…] First of all, with this “request for proposals,” NASA may finally solve the problem of finding its next-generation spacesuits, which has vexed the agency for the last 14 years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Additionally, with this new approach to buying spacesuits, NASA is further signaling its intent in a more commercial procurement process. It will be essentially renting the suits from industry, not building them in-house at a far greater expense.

La decisione è stata presa dopo che, per anni, gli sforzi per realizzare tute spaziali di nuova generazione sono risultati vani:

NASA has undertaken several different programs over the previous 14 years, generally led by a NASA field center, to develop a new generation of spacesuits. NASA has spent a total of $420 million during that time on various spacesuit efforts, but this has yielded limited results. After all of this work, any new spacesuits will not be ready for a Moon landing in 2024.

Il contratto di appalto per le nuove tute verrà assegnato in aprile 2022 e consente ai privati di servirsi della tecnologia fin qui sviluppata da NASA, e di proporre il proprio design della tuta. La collaborazione col settore privato è uno degli obiettivi di lungo termine dell’agenzia spaziale americana.

“NASA’s investment in commercial spacesuits is another way that we are fostering a new lunar economy with private partners,” Melroy said. “Similar to our partnerships in low-Earth orbit, this endeavor will create jobs and help fuel an active economy at the Moon.”

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