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NASA to buy spacesuits from commercial market

Capitalism in space: NASA last week announced that it is looking for private companies to build spacesuits and other spacewalk equipment that the agency can buy.

In a request for information (RFI) published April 14, NASA revealed that it is looking for feedback from the space sector on its newly updated strategy to work with commercial partners in space. In this new strategy, NASA is looking to collaborate more with commercial partners in developing, building and maintaining technology for spacewalks, or extravehicular activities (EVAs), including spacesuits, the agency said in a statement.

Under this new strategy, the agency will be “shifting acquisition of the exploration extravehicular activity (xEVA) system to a model in which NASA will purchase spacesuit services from commercial partners rather than building them in-house with traditional government contracts,” the statement reads.

This request, issued only days prior to the award of the lunar lander contract to SpaceX, continues the shift at NASA from running things like the Soviet Union, where everything is designed, built, and owned by the government, to the traditional American model of capitalism and free enterprise, where the governement is merely the customer that gets what it needs from the private sector.

The timing also suggests that NASA’s management wants to firm up this shift prior to the arrival of big government guy, former senator and Democrat Bill Nelson, who is undergoing his confirmation hearing today as NASA administrator.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

9 comments

  • Ray

    I wonder what planet we would be landing today on if we did this in 1980

  • jeff d

    Wow. My mind boggles. You definitely called this one Mr Zimmerman. Well done and please keep up your predictions and analyses.

  • Jeff Wright

    What if they off shore it and put the last American seamstresses out of work? That cool with you? Pure villainy. West Alabama is filled with the wrecks of mills Reagan ghosted.

  • mpthompson

    Will NASA be producing standards that multiple companies can produce products for? For instance, a standard helmet mount so that multiple companies could provide helmets that are guaranteed to work with whatever lower suit is produced. Same for gloves, boots, torso, and a myriad of other components that go into a spacesuit. I can envision how custom components could be produced to meet certain criteria based on the specific requirements of a mission. This could do a lot to spur innovation across smaller companies.

  • Doubting Thomas

    My thought is that with this development, someone with enough money and some personal risk tolerance could buy the services of a starship (and associated fueling infrastructure), an EVA suit and then head to the moon to beat, by several years, the first set of Artemis astronauts touch down in 2029 (given NASA’s risk intolerance).

    I guess now that Musk has all the NASA contracts related to Lunar exploration, he wouldn’t want to tick off his customer by upstaging them.

  • Edward

    Jeff Wright,
    You asked: “What if they off shore it and put the last American seamstresses out of work?

    Why do you think the last American seamstresses are so inefficient or ineffective that they can’t compete? And if they are, why do we want to support their inefficiency or ineffectiveness? Why can’t they figure out how to be more competitive? Isn’t the waste of resources through such poor allocation the real villainy?

    Why was western Alabama unable or unwilling to improve their competitiveness? Indeed, during the Carter and Reagan administrations, the Democrats were advocating that America offshore work so that foreign markets would then have money with which to purchase American products. So, that makes the Democrats, not Reagan, the villains of west Alabama.

  • Col Beausabre

    mpthompson – Ref standards. The US military has a couple of centuries’ experience along this line. – write the specification, have a competition, choose the winner. So I think NASA will follow in kind. BTW, you can add the Space Force into the mix. There’s no reason that NASA and the SF can’t produce joint specifications when appropriate. Don’t forget, it’s cheaper to buy in bulk (As I learned from my father telling me about the Gilbreths, pioneers of the “Scientific Management School” who married one another and had a large family)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheaper_by_the_Dozen

    And as an old soldier, I love the idea that “boots on the ground” is going to take on a whole new meaning. for the US Army. Just don’t let them issue you any red shirts, guys.

  • Jeff Wright

    To Edward-the search for low wages is what caused ruin porn. It made China strong and killed our middle class. What you call protectionism I call patriotism. Bash Carter all you like-but back then, we were more self reliant-and not one person in China had a car.

    Ayn Rand-who also died on public assistance-even talked about ‘post birth abortion.’ I want nothing to do with that kind of villany. She is wrong for the same reason Erlich was wrong. She saw her fellow man as a problem-not as a resource. Greens hate folks for having anything nice. Corporate profit seekers wrecked a pro-engineer Aeropace sector. The suits caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster by telling roughnecks how to do their jobs–and environmentals don’t even want them to have their jobs. As a sane centrist- I say a pox be upon both their houses.

  • Edward

    Jeff Wright,
    You wrote: “To Edward-the search for low wages is what caused ruin porn.

    The search was not for lower wages but for lower overall costs. Why does it cost so much to do business in Alabama? Why can’t Alabama be competitive? Why do I keep asking questions that you aren’t going to bother to answer?

    What you call protectionism

    What did I call protectionism? Indeed, my questions support the opposite of protectionism. Patriotism would be to find the better efficiencies so that the lower prices would bring in business, to show the world that we are competitive, too. Do you not understand basic economics or did you fail to comprehend my comment? (Why do I keep asking questions? Apparently, I just can’t help myself.) I suspect the latter, because not only did you not answer a single one of my questions, you insisted that I said some things that I did not.

    I didn’t bash Carter, but you seemed eager to “bash,” as you think of it, Reagan. Are you one of those who is proud to be a hypocrite? It is interesting, however, that you think that a successful rest of the world would be a bad thing. To you, the suggestion of such a world is considered “bashing,” even though it was a liberal global strategy.

    We were more self reliant, back then, because we hadn’t yet done as the Democrats wanted. Now that we are in the mess you don’t like, you aren’t even willing to accept that it was the Democrats who did it to us in order to support union jobs by selling their products overseas.

    You are full of contradictions, Jeff. You seem to know little about the topic. It isn’t the only topic that you seem to know little about. Your second paragraph is a bit eclectic, in an unclear way. I am a bit confused how you consider the Social (In)Security and Medicare that a person earns to be public assistance, it is money that government owes to us. If that is your criterion, then pretty much everyone ends up on what you consider to be public assistance.

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