NASA is making plans to put astronauts back on the Moon and send them to Mars, but the space agency has yet to sign off on a new space suit.
Retired astronaut Eileen Collins calls it a big deal, saying NASA needs time to develop a more durable and functional replacement for the current Apollo-era space suit.
“They have to work, you can't take that risk and go out with a space suit that isn't fully tested and you don't have full confidence in,” she says.
Keith Cowing of NASA Watch says it really comes down to restoring funding for the U.S. space program.
“It's just a matter of, in my opinion, calling up the folks at Johnson Space Center and saying here's the money go do it, and I'm pretty sure they'd go do it in very short order,” says Cowing.
Astronauts could need up to three different kinds of space suits for a single mission. One for inside the spacecraft. A second for spacewalks and other extravehicular activity, and a third for surface missions on the Moon or Mars.
“Our space station is only funded until 2024, so we're not sure if there's going to be continued funding after that, right now it looks like the answer is no," says Collins. "So we have a limited amount of time to actually test that space suit on board the space station and it's still in the early stages of development."