Keith's Update: Nearly 3 days after I originally submitted my Gorilla suit request to NASA PAO (long after foreign publications had already gotten answers from NASA PAO on this topic) I finally got my response back from NASA. What is hilarious is that NASA says officially that it has no idea what the suit is made out of (or how much it weighs or what volume it uses) but states that it meets all safety requirements. How does one say that a safety certification has been made unless you know what the suit is made out of? In addition, no one at JSC approved it for shipping. It just got stuck in there.
I am all for the health and well being of the crew, but when NASA drags its feet on such a simple set of questions and then issues replies that are inherently contradictory, you have to wonder if there actually is a "process" in place or if they just make this all up as they go. As for the cost: well, it costs money to send things up, and even if there is an allocation for these things, it still costs the same amount to ship a pound of science as it does to ship a pound of gorilla suit. Just sayin'
Here is the official NASA response (below) from Brandi Dean at NASA JSC, verbatim:
"Hi Keith Your request was sent on to me. I'm sorry about the delay in answering. I actually thought someone else had already responded to you.
The short answer here is that crew members' family and friends have a certain amount of room designated to them to send gifts up to the space station. (The exact space and dimensions vary depending on what vehicle it's going up on.) The space is either for crew care packages or crew ballast bags (basically care packages that take up weight that needs to be added for vehicle stability). The families are given a list of items that that aren't allowed (things like electronics, things with batteries, software), and the contents they send up are reviewed by our safety personnel to check for flammability and off gassing. But other than that safety review, the contents are considered personal and confidential. So we don't have any insight into what the family is sending up.
With that background here are the answers to your actual questions:
- Can you tell me what the Gorilla suit is made out of i.e. what kind of material(s)? -- NASA did not purchase the suit and does not have that information.
- Is this Gorilla suit COTS (where was it purchased?) or was it specially made? How much did it cost? -- NASA did not purchase it and does not have that information.
- Was the Gorilla suit subjected to standard outgassing, flammability, microbial, and particulate standards? Did it meet those requirements or was a waiver granted? -- It was reviewed to ensure that it meets the safety requirements that all cargo sent up by friends and family members of the crew must meet.
- How much does the Gorilla suit weigh and how much volume did it use inside the cargo vehicle that carried it up? -- The care package went up on Orbital OA-4 in December.
- Is the suit considered "crew preference", "crew clothing", or "education and outreach"? -- It was a gift sent up by the crew member's friends and family.
- Will the Gorilla suit remain on the ISS after Kelly leaves? If so where will it be stored? -- Kelly has the option of using some of his allocated down mass to bring it back with him. If he does not, the crew remaining at the station may keep it if they would like to do so. A storage location will be suggested by flight controllers on the ground.
- Did the shipping of the Gorilla suit to orbit bump anything off the manifest - if so, what was bumped? -- It did not bump anything it was sent up as part of a ballast allocation provided to crew friends and family.
- Was this manifested by JSC or CASIS? -- Neither.
- Who approved of the shipping of the gorilla suit to the ISS? Was NASA HQ involved in the decision making process? -- Crew member families have the ability to send private gifts to orbit. Their cargo is reviewed to ensure that it meets safety standards, but is otherwise considered private and kept confidential.
I hope that is helpful. If you have any additional questions, just let me know. Thanks,
Public Affairs Office
This Is Why We Built The International Space Station, earlier post