How Much Does A NASA Spacesuit Really Cost?

Traveling to different places costs money, and part of the expenses may go into clothing. Vacationers may spend hundreds of dollars on swimwear for beach trips, and winter clothing for cold destinations. The same goes for NASA, as part of their budget goes into spacesuits for astronauts who are going to travel to space. And since the human body isn't accustomed to conditions in space, spacesuits must provide the utmost protection for the wearer.

On May 5, 1961, astronaut Alan B. Shepard became the first American to be sent into space. He wore the Mercury suit, which was used by six other astronauts before it was retired. More types of spacesuits followed in the decades after — all of which improved in design and functionality (via Business Insider). Back in 1974, one spacesuit reportedly cost between $15 million to $22 million, which is equivalent to $83 million to $122 million in today's money. In 2024, NASA plans to have another moon mission, and new spacesuits must be made for the next moon landing and various other missions.

Why are spacesuits so expensive?

NASA is developing new spacesuits but there are delays due to costs. According to Quartz, one spacesuit will cost approximately $1 billion. The staggering amount of money required to build one spacesuit may postpone missions as NASA is having difficulty with funding. Spacesuits are so expensive as they are not merely clothing for astronauts. Each spacesuit acts as sort of a personal spacecraft that provides oxygen and basic needs to an astronaut, per Space Australia. Spacesuits are also made of multiple layers as protection for different conditions.

The next generation of spacesuits in development is called xEMU (Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit) and focuses on astronauts' safety. The suits also have state-of-the-art communications technology and have interchangeable mechanisms so they can be used for different space destinations (via NASA). With the high cost of the xEMU spacesuit, NASA is lacking funds to fulfill its goal. They are now trying a different approach and considering turning to the private sector to create the next-generation spacesuits.