Enlarge / NASA’s current plans for its next generation of spacesuits. (credit: NASA Inspector General)
When NASA began developing a rocket and spacecraft to return humans to the Moon a decade ago as part of the Constellation Program, the space agency started to think about the kinds of spacesuits astronauts would need in deep space and on the lunar surface.
After this consideration, NASA awarded a $148 million contract to Oceaneering International, Inc. in 2009 to develop and produce such a spacesuit.
However, President Obama canceled the Constellation program just a year later, in early 2010. Later that year, senior officials at the Johnson Space Center recommended canceling the Constellation spacesuit contract because the agency had its own engineers working on a new spacesuit and, well, NASA no longer had a clear need for deep-space spacesuits. However, the Houston officials were overruled by agency leaders at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, DC.
A new report released Wednesday by NASA Inspector General Paul Martin sharply criticizes this decision. “The continuation of this contract did not serve the best interests of the agency’s spacesuit technology development efforts,” the report states.
In fact, the report found that NASA essentially squandered $80.6 million on the Oceaneering contract before it was finally ended last year.
Read 5 remaining paragraphs