A startup in Brooklyn is making spacesuits for the next generation of astronauts, and potentially for a fraction of what NASA spends on them.
Final Frontier Design is already selling suits for passengers traveling inside a spacecraft for between $125,000 to $150,000. The company is now developing suits that can withstand the pressures of deep space at a retail price of less than $2 million apiece.
NASA’s spent almost $200 million developing several suits and space travel technology since 2007. An Inspector General audit last year found that they aren’t even fully flight-ready. About $12 million of that figure was spent on flight suits currently in testing that astronauts will wear on Orion deep space missions in the 2020s.
NASA spokeswoman Kathryn Hambleton told CNBC its current supply of EVA spacesuits and parts are enough for operating on the International Space Station through at least 2024. Beyond that, the agency will review the needs of future missions to the ISS and further exploration.
Final Frontier’s two major competitors in the spacesuit industry are ILC Dover, which built the suits for the Apollo missions, and David Clark Company, which built suits for Gemini and Shuttle astronauts. Both companies have continued to work with NASA and the Air Force developing garments and components for crew members.
And with big names like SpaceX, Boeing and Blue Origin all working to get astronauts and travelers into space, many start-ups like Final Frontier see opportunity in the new era of commercial space success.
In just the first quarter of 2018, investors had already poured nearly $1 billion into commercial space companies and are on track to invest a total of $4 billion by the end of the year, according to research by Space Angels, an early-stage venture group.