Space

NASA asks public to vote on Z-2 spacesuit design

NASA asks public to vote on Z-...
The Trends in Society design (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design has scale-like skin (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design has scale-like skin (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design is rear-entry (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design is rear-entry (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design is one of three for the public to vote on (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design is one of three for the public to vote on (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design emphasizes certain mobility aspects of the suit (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design emphasizes certain mobility aspects of the suit (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design is for the Z-2 prototype (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design is for the Z-2 prototype (Image: NASA)
The Z-2 is the first rear-entry suit with a hard torso (Image: NASA)
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The Z-2 is the first rear-entry suit with a hard torso (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design front view (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design front view (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design lateral view (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design lateral view (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design lateral view (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design lateral view (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design rear view (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design rear view (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design oblique top view rear (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design oblique top view rear (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design oblique top view front (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design oblique top view front (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design in low light (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design in low light (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design is based on deep-sea life (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design is based on deep-sea life (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design has electroluminescent wires (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design has electroluminescent wires (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design has segmented pleats (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design has segmented pleats (Image: NASA)
Detail of rear luminescent design (Image: NASA)
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Detail of rear luminescent design (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design highlights the hatch in light (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design highlights the hatch in light (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design for the Z-2 prototype (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design for the Z-2 prototype (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design in low light (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design in low light (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design uses light for identification (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design uses light for identification (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design is one of three designs the public can vote on (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design is one of three designs the public can vote on (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design in low light (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design in low light (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design showing entry hatch (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design showing entry hatch (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design upper oblique front view in low light (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design upper oblique front view in low light (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design (Image: NASA)
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The Biomimicry design (Image: NASA)
The Z-1 is rear entry (Image: NASA)
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The Z-1 is rear entry (Image: NASA)
The Z-1 prototype (Image: NASA)
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The Z-1 prototype (Image: NASA)
The Z-1 was NASA's first new spacesuit in 20 years (Image: NASA)
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The Z-1 was NASA's first new spacesuit in 20 years (Image: NASA)
The Technology design (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design (Image: NASA)
The Technology design harkens back to conventional spacesuits of the past (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design harkens back to conventional spacesuits of the past (Image: NASA)
The Technology design has a rear entry hatch (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design has a rear entry hatch (Image: NASA)
The Technology design has exposed rotary bearings (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design has exposed rotary bearings (Image: NASA)
The Technology design has pleats (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design has pleats (Image: NASA)
The Technology design includes sci-fi elements (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design includes sci-fi elements (Image: NASA)
The Technology design has abrasion-resistant panels (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design has abrasion-resistant panels (Image: NASA)
The Technology design front view (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design front view (Image: NASA)
The Technology design oerspective view (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design oerspective view (Image: NASA)
The Technology design lateral view (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design lateral view (Image: NASA)
The Technology design rear view (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design rear view (Image: NASA)
The Technology design oblique view (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design oblique view (Image: NASA)
The Technology design oblique front view (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design oblique front view (Image: NASA)
The Technology design uses electroluminescent wire and patches (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design uses electroluminescent wire and patches (Image: NASA)
The Technology design is one of three that the public can vote on (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design is one of three that the public can vote on (Image: NASA)
The Technology design is one variant of the Z-2 prototype (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design is one variant of the Z-2 prototype (Image: NASA)
The Technology design (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design (Image: NASA)
The Technology design showing rear lighting details (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design showing rear lighting details (Image: NASA)
The Technology design uses light patches for identification (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design uses light patches for identification (Image: NASA)
The Technology design light patches are visible in dim light (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design light patches are visible in dim light (Image: NASA)
The Technology design front view (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design front view (Image: NASA)
The Technology design perspective view (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design perspective view (Image: NASA)
The Technology design lateral view (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design lateral view (Image: NASA)
The Technology design can be voted on until April 15 (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design can be voted on until April 15 (Image: NASA)
The Technology design (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design (Image: NASA)
The Technology design's shell protects the suit against abrasion (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design's shell protects the suit against abrasion (Image: NASA)
The Technology design (Image: NASA)
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The Technology design (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design is fashion based (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design is fashion based (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design anticipates the fashions of the near future (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design anticipates the fashions of the near future (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design uses bright colors (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design uses bright colors (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design suggests sportswear (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design suggests sportswear (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design is partly inspired by wearable electronics (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design is partly inspired by wearable electronics (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design uses gore pleats and contrasting stitching (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design uses gore pleats and contrasting stitching (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design is one of three designs the public can vote on (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design is one of three designs the public can vote on (Image: NASA)
The first Z-2 will be completed in November (Image: NASA)
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The first Z-2 will be completed in November (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design highlight mobility features (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design highlight mobility features (Image: NASA)
The Z-2 acts as its own airlock (Image: NASA)
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The Z-2 acts as its own airlock (Image: NASA)
The Z-2 can dock with spacecraft (Image: NASA)
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The Z-2 can dock with spacecraft (Image: NASA)
The Z-2 eliminates lengthy pre-breathing (Image: NASA)
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The Z-2 eliminates lengthy pre-breathing (Image: NASA)
The Z-2 is faster to don (Image: NASA)
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The Z-2 is faster to don (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design showing luminous wires and patches (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design showing luminous wires and patches (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design uses luminous patches for identification (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design uses luminous patches for identification (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design showing hatch (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design showing hatch (Image: NASA)
Front details of the Trends in Society design (Image: NASA)
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Front details of the Trends in Society design (Image: NASA)
Rear details of the Trends in Society design (Image: NASA)
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Rear details of the Trends in Society design (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design oblique view (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design oblique view (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design front view (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design front view (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design perspective view (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design perspective view (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design lateral view (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design lateral view (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design rear (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design rear (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design oblique upper rear view (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design oblique upper rear view (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design oblique upper front view (Image: NASA)
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The Trends in Society design oblique upper front view (Image: NASA)
The Z-1 echoes the look of Buzz Lightyear (Image: NASA)
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The Z-1 echoes the look of Buzz Lightyear (Image: NASA)
View gallery - 85 images

NASA has gone a touch sartorial as it asks the public to vote on the design of its new prototype Z-2 spacesuit. Part of the Advanced Suit development program to come up with a replacement for the 22-year old suit designs currently used on the International Space Station, the Z-2 not only includes a number of technical innovations, but also a design that for the first time has an eye on the aesthetics of living and working in outer space.

In 2012, NASA showed off its Z-1 spacesuit prototype. The first new spacesuit developed by NASA in 20 years, it was named one of Time magazine's Best Inventions of that year. Its purpose wasn’t just to replace an aging system, but to introduce a number of new ideas to make spacesuits a bit more efficient.

Spacesuits are anything but an inflatable set of coveralls and, with the exception of Sandra Bullock, they can't be put on or taken off in a few seconds. If anything, they’re less like long johns and more like mixed-gas deep diving rigs that require a lot of training and about an hour to put on after a long, boring period of breathing pure oxygen to avoid a nasty case of the bends. The Z-1 was designed to make spacewalks a bit easier.

The Z-1 prototype (Image: NASA)
The Z-1 prototype (Image: NASA)

Among a number of innovations, the Z-1 included a rear-entry hatch similar to those found on Russian spacesuits, but had the added advantage of allowing the suit to dock directly with a spacecraft. This not only made the suit easier to get in and out of, but because the spacecraft and suit were of the same pressure, there wasn’t the need for a lengthy pre-breathing period. Then, of course, there was the aesthetic element that the Z-1 resembled Buzz Lightyear’s wardrobe, which caught the public’s imagination.

The Z-2 prototype is the next step in the new spacesuit's evolution. Unlike the Z-1, which was made of soft fabrics and was more of a concept in many ways than a functioning system, the Z-2 will be the first spacesuit designed specifically for working on a planet surface to be tested in full vacuum. Tailored using 3D laser scans and incorporating 3D-printed components, it’s also the first rear-entry suit to use a hard upper torso, which makes it easier to wear, more durable, more impact resistant, and configurable to astronauts of different sizes. In addition, the joints have been redesigned based on tests of the Z-1 to make them more mobile, yet compatible with working in a hard vacuum.

According to NASA, the Z-2 will undergo a battery of extensive tests of its mobility, ability to work in a vacuum, comfort, with neutral buoyancy tests in a pool to simulate zero gravity and working on a simulated Martian landscape at the Johnson Space Center in Texas.

Another first for the Z-2 is that it’s not only being designed for looks as well as function, but the public is invited to vote on the design. The competing designs were produced in collaboration with ILC, the primary suit vendor, and Philadelphia University, and are for the outer shell of the suit, which protects it against chafing and snagging, as well as incorporating luminous elements to make it easy to see and identify in the dark. The space agency says that the three versions are aimed at showing off some aspects of the suit’s mobility.

The designs

The Biomimicry design (Image: NASA)
The Biomimicry design (Image: NASA)

Biomimicry

Taking its cues from deep sea life, biomimicry has segmented pleats at the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee, and electroluminescent wire across the upper torso, which lights up as the ambient light dims like some sort of outer space jellyfish. The texture even has a scaly look like fish skin.

The Technology design (Image: NASA)
The Technology design (Image: NASA)

Technology

Technology, as the name implies, looks back to more conventional spacesuits, but with some sci-fi elements added, such as Luminex wire and light-emitting patches for crew identification. The Technology design has exposed rotating bearings, collapsing pleats for mobility and highlighted movement, and abrasion-resistant panels on the lower torso.

The Trends in Society design uses gore pleats and contrasting stitching (Image: NASA)
The Trends in Society design uses gore pleats and contrasting stitching (Image: NASA)

Trends in Society

According to NASA, Trends in Society is the Z-2 based on what clothes may look like in the near future – in this case, it’s fashion revolving around sportswear, wearable electronics, bright colors, and wearing shorts over your trousers. Trends in Society uses gore pleats with contrast stitching to highlight mobility, electroluminescent wire, and patches on the upper and lower torso.NASA points out that the final design of the spacesuit derived from the Z-2 prototype will look different because a flightworthy suit will need to incorporate micrometeor protection, high-performance fabrics, and thermal and radiation protection, which will not allow for some of the options used on the Z-2.

Voting is currently open with the deadline set for April 15 at 11:59 PM EDT. NASA says that the Z-2 will be ready for testing in November.

Source: NASA via Universe Today

View gallery - 85 images
19 comments
19 comments
Brian M
Yes - but does it pass the 'Does it make my bum look bigger'
Spacemen are still going to have to tell a little lie........
Mirmillion
This design reminds me of the soft-shell version of Phil Nuytten's Newt-Suit or Exosuit. I'm sure NASA has tried to adapt the hard-shell version but weight and mobility considerations make it difficult.
What is needed is a hybrid material that acts like an alloy when stressed or impacted but is flexible when moving with the human body. Think it already exists in bulletproofing.
hdm
Does the first picture show a gun or drill? They need to brand things. Nikey should be involved...branding is key.
Jay_Wilson
None of these would pass the "cool" test in any science fiction film
Drifter
My vote is for the one that is more than just fashionable 'bling'. Please tell me me 'we' are paying for some form of 'visual feedback' graphic displays. Please tell me the millions 'we' are investing are more than a fashion statement.
Dieter
As long as there is oxygen in their helmet I doubt one wearing the spacesuit would give a spacerats rear what it looked like. Perhaps with 3D printing a spaceman or women for that matter could simply print their own. Is the affair on Mars going to be formal or casual this evening??? LOL.
Guy DeWardener
Need a design that allows you to scratch an itch!
Jay Finke
How about we ask NASA witch is the best, most efficient design. I really don't care what it looks like. Being 100% reliable is what I sure the persons wearing it would probably prefer ?
Neil Farbstein
Hate it. The hunchbacked look is really bad, limits motion, and it has limited view all around.
Richie Arbas
All looks kind of "humpback", kind of disabled person. No?
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