NASA has stated that it will most likely not be possible to fly to the moon in 2024. Maybe in 2025. But this is not accurate. However, Elon Musk’s Starship, which is supposed to fly, still regularly explodes during landing. But this time, it’s not about him, but about the spacesuits. They will be ready well if in the spring of 2025.
It would seem that there should certainly be no problems with this. Spacesuits have been successfully produced in the United States since the early 1960s. Americans fly them to the ISS and go into outer space. In the photos from the Moon 50 years ago, we see the participants of the Apollo mission, all of them in spacesuits, white, shining; they still have the emblem with the American flag so clearly visible.
But for fourteen years now, the American space industry has been struggling with a spacesuit for returning to the moon. During this time, more than four hundred million dollars have been spent on space suits as part of the multibillion-dollar Artemis program. It is planned to lower even more than six hundred. But science does not know what astronauts will really fly to conquer the moon in. “Naked kings,” NASA top managers sadly joke.
It would seem that what is easier? Go to the Air and Space Museum in Washington, take the spacesuit of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, and see what and how. Well, experiment with new materials, maybe. Adapt electronic devices to it and come up with protection for them. Well, actually, that’s all. The principle has not changed.
Do you still have any questions? You can check with a Soviet spacesuit designed specifically for a flight to the moon. One of them, bought at Sotheby’s by the eccentric billionaire Ross Perot, is displayed in the same Washington museum.
However, when demonstrating a prototype of a lunar spacesuit in 2019, it was clear that the Americans had already borrowed one Soviet idea: they liked the rear door through which an astronaut could enter his suit as if into a closet. Similar shoulder weights are also used to compensate for weightlessness.
According to the official version, NASA is delaying the release of spacesuits due to increased safety requirements: protecting astronauts from radiation, vacuum, and low gravity on the Moon. However, fundamentally technical solutions have not changed. The same bulky weights are used in the fight against reduced gravity, and life support systems are hidden in boxes like backpacks in an old-fashioned way.
Radiation? Well, after all, American astronauts who have been on the Moon have lived for quite a long time. From this, we can conclude that the spacesuits of that time quite reliably protected them from off-scale radiation. Why reinvent the wheel?
As some incredible achievement, the fact that a NASA lunar spacesuit will protect an astronaut from minus 150 to plus 120 degrees Celsius is presented. But in approximately the same range from minus 130 to plus 160, the old Soviet space suit “Krechet” also worked, which became the prototype of a much more advanced “Orlan.”
And the name, of course. A new spacesuit is not just some kind of spacesuit. This is the “research unit of extravehicular mobility” — just the envy of Tony Stark. A special responsibility is imposed on its creators because a woman and a person of color should become the conquerors of the Moon. This idea was born in the White House and is designed to compensate women and people of color for centuries of oppression.
The topic with spacesuits clearly shows what nonsense is happening with technologies in a country that positions itself as a leader of scientific progress. What really happened to the superheavy rockets that launched lunar modules more than half a century ago? Where are all the drawings, calculations? Where are those brilliant old cadres who provided such an incredible breakthrough in American science and technology? Why were reliable lunar spacesuits developed in two or three years in the 1960s, and now they have been lying around for fourteen years?
All the problems that were successfully solved in 1969-1972 within the framework of the Apollo mission have to be solved anew within the framework of the Artemis mission. Moreover, it seems that there is literally nothing left from the glorious era of the conquest of the Moon, except for a film.
Right now, the NASA team is vainly struggling with the problem of lunar dust. Scientists are afraid that the dust that rose during the landing of the lunar module will blind both the instruments and the astronauts. With a small gravity, it will settle very slowly. What to do?
We turn to the source. Neil Armstrong’s memoirs are vague. “At an altitude of fewer than 100 feet (about 30 meters), a transparent pall of dust began to surround us, slightly impeding visibility. The lower we descended, the more visibility fell.” So what’s up with the dust? Did it only slightly obstruct visibility, or was nothing visible at all? When did it dissipate? Scientists are reviewing videos from the moon, but no dust is visible on them…
Conspiracy theorists — not only in Russia but also in the United States – are in a hurry to conclude from all this that Americans have never been to the moon at all. In fact, however, the situation is much sadder. If they didn’t fly anywhere, but now they were trying to conquer the moon from scratch, it would be cool. It would be just a feat — and we would all give a standing ovation.
But to have such wonderful technologies, such outstanding scientists, engineers, designers at your disposal and to waste all polymers so epically for half a century – it was necessary to try. This is really a decline — and science in general, and the rocket and space industry in particular. In simple words, today, it is not possible to build what was successfully built half a century ago. The degradation is obvious. And no Teslas and iPhones can disguise this obvious regression.
And then there is a bad thought about kickbacks and popilah by itself. Seriously. Fourteen years of work, a billion dollars, and what’s the result? Not the most innovative spacesuit, ah, sorry, “research unit of extravehicular mobility.” And even that still needs to be finalized.
By the way, it is quite obvious why the launch of the spacesuit into production is scheduled for the end of 2024 — the beginning of 2025. The fact is that every new American president undertakes to conquer space in their own way. The elections will be held in 2024. If the current president holds power, Elon Musk, who has just offered NASA to make spacesuits for them, can count on the previous funding. If Biden leaves the White House, then all the plans of NASA and, accordingly, Space X can go under the knife.
The fatal period – from the elections to the inauguration-just falls on the end of 2024-the beginning of 2025. An experienced politician, a virtuoso of state contracts, Elon Musk, understands such things perfectly. Maybe the new president will plan a mission to Alpha Centauri. Then the spacesuit will have to be redone again — and the new funding will be requested for this case. Well, if you don’t get a spacesuit, it won’t be far from the next election. Khoja Nasreddin also beat out budget financing similarly: either the donkey will die, or the shah will die (he will lose in the elections).
No, there is no schadenfreude in these observations. Space has remained, perhaps, the last industry that has not yet been too polluted by militarism. People from all over the world follow the work of Chinese, Russian, and American scientists with sincere interest. It’s amazing when the Falcon 9 returns to Earth, safe and sound. And when our Proton takes off, it’s also great. This is the limit of human ingenuity, which allowed us to do the impossible, to go to infinity.