Author Topic: Cost of Apollo spacesuits  (Read 1504 times)

Offline Vahe231991

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Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« on: 07/04/2022 08:40 pm »
I read about an audit estimating the cost of the astronaut spacesuits intended for manned Artemis 1 missions at $1 billion per suit, but how much money did each spacesuit worn by astronauts for the Apollo missions cost? Was it cheaper or about as expensive as the planned Artemis suits?

Offline Jim

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Re: Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« Reply #1 on: 07/05/2022 11:41 am »
I read about an audit estimating the cost of the astronaut spacesuits intended for manned Artemis 1 missions at $1 billion per suit, but how much money did each spacesuit worn by astronauts for the Apollo missions cost? Was it cheaper or about as expensive as the planned Artemis suits?


Not the same type of suits.  Artemis suits are not for EVA.

Offline ccdengr

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Re: Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« Reply #2 on: 07/05/2022 02:39 pm »
If you're talking about the NASA IG report on xEMU ( https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-21-025.pdf ) that doesn't say the suits will cost $1B apiece, it says

Quote
Since 2007, NASA has spent about $420.1 million on spacesuit development. Going forward, the Agency
plans to invest approximately $625.2 million more, bringing the total spent on design, testing,
qualification, an ISS Demo suit, two flight-ready suits, and related support to over $1 billion through
fiscal year (FY) 2025, when the first two flight-ready spacesuits will be available based on current xEVA
schedules.

I don't know if it's possible to figure out the total cost accounting of Apollo suits in the same way.  One story on the web ( https://www.eclipseaviation.com/how-much-do-nasa-spacesuits-cost/ ) claimed that the inflation-adjusted cost of an Apollo suit was $150M but I have no idea how that was computed.
« Last Edit: 07/05/2022 02:41 pm by ccdengr »

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« Reply #3 on: 07/05/2022 03:42 pm »
If you're talking about the NASA IG report on xEMU ( https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-21-025.pdf ) that doesn't say the suits will cost $1B apiece, it says

Quote
Since 2007, NASA has spent about $420.1 million on spacesuit development. Going forward, the Agency
plans to invest approximately $625.2 million more, bringing the total spent on design, testing,
qualification, an ISS Demo suit, two flight-ready suits, and related support to over $1 billion through
fiscal year (FY) 2025, when the first two flight-ready spacesuits will be available based on current xEVA
schedules.

I don't know if it's possible to figure out the total cost accounting of Apollo suits in the same way.  One story on the web ( https://www.eclipseaviation.com/how-much-do-nasa-spacesuits-cost/ ) claimed that the inflation-adjusted cost of an Apollo suit was $150M but I have no idea how that was computed.
That figure for Apollo is way too high. Other sources give prices in nominal terms of about $100,000, or less than $1 million, for the cost of an Apollo suit. https://finance.yahoo.com/amphtml/news/astronomical-costs-apollo-11-moon-224424628.html

Other sources give $1-2 million.

This stuff isnít magic. It really doesnít cost that much to make a spacesuit.
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Offline edzieba

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Re: Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« Reply #4 on: 07/05/2022 03:46 pm »
If you're talking about the NASA IG report on xEMU ( https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-21-025.pdf ) that doesn't say the suits will cost $1B apiece, it says

Quote
Since 2007, NASA has spent about $420.1 million on spacesuit development. Going forward, the Agency
plans to invest approximately $625.2 million more, bringing the total spent on design, testing,
qualification, an ISS Demo suit, two flight-ready suits, and related support to over $1 billion through
fiscal year (FY) 2025, when the first two flight-ready spacesuits will be available based on current xEVA
schedules.

I don't know if it's possible to figure out the total cost accounting of Apollo suits in the same way.  One story on the web ( https://www.eclipseaviation.com/how-much-do-nasa-spacesuits-cost/ ) claimed that the inflation-adjusted cost of an Apollo suit was $150M but I have no idea how that was computed.
That figure for Apollo is way too high. Other sources give prices in nominal terms of about $100,000, or less than $1 million, for the cost of an Apollo suit. https://finance.yahoo.com/amphtml/news/astronomical-costs-apollo-11-moon-224424628.html

Other sources give $1-2 million.

This stuff isnít magic. It really doesnít cost that much to make a spacesuit.
It depends on whether you count 'learning how to make the suit' as part of the cost of making the suit. Particularly for small production runs (tens rather than tens of thousands) R&D costs will dominate that raw material + tooling + labour costs.

Offline ccdengr

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Re: Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« Reply #5 on: 07/05/2022 04:25 pm »
It depends on whether you count 'learning how to make the suit' as part of the cost of making the suit.
[/quote]
And there are many ways to define "learning how to make the suit" as well.  The IG report takes all the money spent on spacesuit development from 2007 on by Constellation, Advanced Exploration Systems Division, and ISS and adds it to the cost of the xEMU suits, which is going to result in a much higher cost than the actual NRE/development cost for the specific suit design.

That said, I have no difficulty believing that the xEMU is going to cost more in RY dollars than the Apollo suits did.  But it's really hard to do a fair apples-to-apples comparison.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« Reply #6 on: 07/05/2022 04:36 pm »
If you're talking about the NASA IG report on xEMU ( https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-21-025.pdf ) that doesn't say the suits will cost $1B apiece, it says

Quote
Since 2007, NASA has spent about $420.1 million on spacesuit development. Going forward, the Agency
plans to invest approximately $625.2 million more, bringing the total spent on design, testing,
qualification, an ISS Demo suit, two flight-ready suits, and related support to over $1 billion through
fiscal year (FY) 2025, when the first two flight-ready spacesuits will be available based on current xEVA
schedules.

I don't know if it's possible to figure out the total cost accounting of Apollo suits in the same way.  One story on the web ( https://www.eclipseaviation.com/how-much-do-nasa-spacesuits-cost/ ) claimed that the inflation-adjusted cost of an Apollo suit was $150M but I have no idea how that was computed.
That figure for Apollo is way too high. Other sources give prices in nominal terms of about $100,000, or less than $1 million, for the cost of an Apollo suit. https://finance.yahoo.com/amphtml/news/astronomical-costs-apollo-11-moon-224424628.html

Other sources give $1-2 million.

This stuff isn’t magic. It really doesn’t cost that much to make a spacesuit.
It depends on whether you count 'learning how to make the suit' as part of the cost of making the suit. Particularly for small production runs (tens rather than tens of thousands) R&D costs will dominate that raw material + tooling + labour costs.
That’s the real key: xEVA and similar became massive endless development projects with hundreds of people charging time to them. They weren’t focused and with a firm, short-term goal in mind and thus will cost vastly more than the Apollo suits.

So not only is that kind of a cope excuse, but it shows one of the fundamental problems with the Constellation and Artemis EVA suit programs. Simply not very focused and functioning as a catch-all. And therefore ended up being one of the reasons Artemis will miss the 2024 landing date, and perhaps even 2025. (One reason among many.)

Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Apollo INVENTED the first lunar EVA suit nearly from scratch, but they’ll have spent far less on R&D than the modern Constellation and Artemis programs that could benefit from all the lessons learned from Apollo.


“But, but, the requirements are different!”

Indeed, but who chose those requirements? NASA did.
« Last Edit: 07/05/2022 04:40 pm by Robotbeat »
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Online whitelancer64

Re: Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« Reply #7 on: 07/05/2022 05:14 pm »
Significantly increased mobility, flexibility, and dexterity, an entirely new life support system backpack with a reusable carbon dioxide scrubber that can be recharged by exposure to vacuum, greater ease of donning / doffing the suit, able to be maintained or repaired without sending it back to Earth, etc.

Yeah, these are all very good requirements to have.
« Last Edit: 07/05/2022 05:15 pm by whitelancer64 »
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Offline edzieba

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Re: Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« Reply #8 on: 07/05/2022 05:37 pm »
I doubt that an unsourced finance blog post is a good way to estimate Apollo suit amortised R&D and manufacture costs. $100,000 would barely cover the costs of the Chrome-R used in the outer garment (at $1500 /ft, not a cheap material) let alone the rest of the suit or the years of R&D that preceded the A7L!

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Re: Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« Reply #9 on: 07/05/2022 05:46 pm »
I doubt that an unsourced finance blog post is a good way to estimate Apollo suit amortised R&D and manufacture costs. $100,000 would barely cover the costs of the Chrome-R used in the outer garment (at $1500 /ft, not a cheap material) let alone the rest of the suit or the years of R&D that preceded the A7L!
It is an estimate from the Smithsonian, actually.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/neil-armstrongs-spacesuit-was-made-by-a-bra-manufacturer-3652414/

Nice attempted dodge, though, by attacking the messenger. These suits are actually pretty cheap to make. Of course you can inflate the cost to whatever you want by merely assigning hundreds of people to charge to the project. This isnít wasted money entirely as they will be looking for ways to improve the tech (and theyíll publish papers on it), but if what you actually want is just a spacesuit, itís not necessary to spend that much on it.
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To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« Reply #10 on: 07/05/2022 05:46 pm »
Significantly increased mobility, flexibility, and dexterity, an entirely new life support system backpack with a reusable carbon dioxide scrubber that can be recharged by exposure to vacuum, greater ease of donning / doffing the suit, able to be maintained or repaired without sending it back to Earth, etc.

Yeah, these are all very good requirements to have.
But largely arenít necessary. And probably lots of these things will be deleted because eventually you need to actually build the suit.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline edzieba

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Re: Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« Reply #11 on: 07/05/2022 11:50 pm »
I doubt that an unsourced finance blog post is a good way to estimate Apollo suit amortised R&D and manufacture costs. $100,000 would barely cover the costs of the Chrome-R used in the outer garment (at $1500 /ft, not a cheap material) let alone the rest of the suit or the years of R&D that preceded the A7L!
It is an estimate from the Smithsonian, actually.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/neil-armstrongs-spacesuit-was-made-by-a-bra-manufacturer-3652414/

Nice attempted dodge, though, by attacking the messenger. These suits are actually pretty cheap to make. Of course you can inflate the cost to whatever you want by merely assigning hundreds of people to charge to the project. This isnít wasted money entirely as they will be looking for ways to improve the tech (and theyíll publish papers on it), but if what you actually want is just a spacesuit, itís not necessary to spend that much on it.
$10mn was awarded to ILC for manufacture of the soft portion of the suits, and $20mn to Hamilton for the life-support. Unless there are 300 A7L suits knocking about somewhere, manufacture cost alone would be more than $100,000 per unit for the A7L (even if we assume the Smithsonian figure is for ILCs portion alone, there are not 100 Apollo suits in existence). And that's just the contract for manufacture, not for R&D to actually develop the suit. Inflation-adjusted, those manufacturing contracts are somewhere in the $265mn range.

Comparing a lowballed manufacture-only cost (in 1965 dollars) to today's cost for an entire development programme is not a very illuminating comparison.

Offline woods170

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Re: Cost of Apollo spacesuits
« Reply #12 on: 07/06/2022 10:34 am »
I doubt that an unsourced finance blog post is a good way to estimate Apollo suit amortised R&D and manufacture costs. $100,000 would barely cover the costs of the Chrome-R used in the outer garment (at $1500 /ft, not a cheap material) let alone the rest of the suit or the years of R&D that preceded the A7L!
It is an estimate from the Smithsonian, actually.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/neil-armstrongs-spacesuit-was-made-by-a-bra-manufacturer-3652414/

Nice attempted dodge, though, by attacking the messenger. These suits are actually pretty cheap to make. Of course you can inflate the cost to whatever you want by merely assigning hundreds of people to charge to the project. This isnít wasted money entirely as they will be looking for ways to improve the tech (and theyíll publish papers on it), but if what you actually want is just a spacesuit, itís not necessary to spend that much on it.

$10mn was awarded to ILC for manufacture of the soft portion of the suits, and $20mn to Hamilton for the life-support.

Unless there are 300 A7L suits knocking about somewhere, manufacture cost alone would be more than $100,000 per unit for the A7L (even if we assume the Smithsonian figure is for ILCs portion alone, there are not 100 Apollo suits in existence). And that's just the contract for manufacture, not for R&D to actually develop the suit. Inflation-adjusted, those manufacturing contracts are somewhere in the $265mn range.

Comparing a lowballed manufacture-only cost (in 1965 dollars) to today's cost for an entire development programme is not a very illuminating comparison.

The mistake you make is in assuming that the 1965 contracts were strictly for manufacturing.

They weren't. Completion of development and redesign in the wake of the Apollo 1 disaster totally upset the intention of the original 1965 contracts. In the wake of Apollo 1, modifications were made to both the PGA and the PLSS, and both actions required substantial modifications of the 1965 contracts.

The final value of the contracts for ILC and Hamilton are not known, but they included much more than just manufacturing. With regards to the PGA for example, the modified 1965 contract for ILC eventually included:
- completion of DDT&E activities for A5L
- completion of DDT&E activities for A6L
- completion of DDT&E activities for A7L
- manufacture of training and flight suits of both the IV and EV versions for Apollo 7 thru 14.

Another contract modification added the following items to the ILC contract:
- completion of DDT&E activities for A7LB
- manufacture of training and flight suits of both the IV and EV versions for Apollo 15 thru 17.

Similar contract modifications happened to the 1965 contract for Hamilton Standard. The total final value is not known, and the contract eventually covered a whole lot more than just manufacturing, including completion of DDT&E for the "6" and "-7" versions of the PLSS.

Deriving the cost of manufacture of a single PGA from the original 1965 contract value is therefore impossible. Note that the Smithsonian release, with regards to Neil's flight PGA, ESTIMATES the cost of manufacture to be around $100K, in 1969 dollars. So, even they don't know the true cost precisely.

 

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