New NASA Spacesuit Endangered by Budget?

lunarsuit2During a Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership round table on Saturday, Oceaneering vice president Mark Gittleman said he is concerned about whether the Obama Administration is providing enough funding to allow his company to build NASA’s new spacesuit. Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin shared the concern:

Griffin said Gittleman’s concerns are well placed in light of the proposed $3 billion-plus cut in the budget for the manned space program.

“If it remains there, there is not going to be a space suit contract,” Griffin said. “Or there may be a contract, but there isn’t going to be any money on it.”

Gittleman also said that Oceaneering has had no shortage of people who want to be involved in the project:

“We have people who want to come out of retirement to work on that, we have kids in high school asking what they have to do in college so that they can come work on that,” he said. “They don’t want just a job, they want to work on the space suit. And they don’t want to work on it just because it is a space suit. They want to work on it because it is a space suit that is going to go to the Moon.”

Of course, all this depends on what the Augustine panel says about NASA’s mission to the moon. The panel is reviewing the agency’s plans, with a report due this summer.

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