NASA Z-2 Prototypes. (NASA)
NASA is asking for the help of the public to choose the design of its next space suit prototype by voting on its Web site. The Post’s Max Ehrenfreund wrote: “Previous spacesuits were constructed primarily for spacewalks, but for the new Z-series suits, engineers have a future manned planetary mission in mind.”
NASA’s 2012 Z-1 Spacesuit (NASA)
The Z-2 suit is a follow up to NASA’s Z-1 suit, which looks just like the outfit worn by Buzz Lightyear. The Z-2 will have improved durability and mobility, though it will not be used for testing in space.
NASA writes: “After the positive response to the Z-1 suit’s visual design we received, we wanted to take the opportunity to provide this new suit with an equally memorable appearance.”
With the help of Philadelphia University fashion students, NASA unveiled three different designs.
The “Biomimicry” design draws from an environment with many parallels to the harshness of space: the world’s oceans. Mirroring the bioluminescence of aquatic creatures found at incredible depths and the scaly skin of fish and reptiles, this design has the same qualities that protect some of Earth’s toughest creatures. (NASA) The design includes segmented pleats at the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee, and electroluminescent wire across the upper torso, which is visible in reduced light. (NASA)
“Technology” pays homage to spacesuits of the past. By using Luminex wire and light-emitting patches, this design helps identify crew members. (NASA) The suit includes electroluminescent wire and patches across the upper and lower torso, exposed rotating bearings, collapsing pleats for mobility and highlighted movement, and abrasion resistant panels on the lower torso. (NASA)
“Trends in Society”
“Trends in Society” envisions what everyday clothes may look like in the not-too-distant future. This suit uses electroluminescent wire and a bright color scheme to mimic the appearance of sportswear and wearable technology. (NASA) The design includes gore pleats with contrast stitching throughout to highlight mobility, an exposed bearing at the hip, and electroluminescent wire and patches of varying styles across the upper and lower torso. (NASA)
The winning design is expected to be built by November.
For more information and to cast your vote, visit the Z-2 Web site. Voting ends tonight at midnight.