NASA is developing a brand new space suit for their astronauts of 2014, and wants the public to vote for which one they prefer. The Z-2 suit, as it will be known, is NASA’s next generation space suit, following in the footsteps of its award winning predecessor, the Z-1. The suit will be built in November later this year, and will mark several milestones for NASA, including; first use of 3D printing hardware for suit development, first integration of a hard upper torso structure, and first mobility suit to be tested in full vacuum.
Working with Philadelphia University, NASA has come up with three designs that are unlike any other suit in existence. They were created with the intent to protect the suit, and to highlight certain mobility features to aid suit testing.
The first suit, Biomimicry, is based on the fish and reptiles that cover our earth, using their tough scaly skin as a basis for the suit. It mirrors the bioluminescent qualities of the aquatic creatures found in the deepest parts of the ocean by using electroluminescent wire across the torso of the suit. This creates an added glow in the dark appearance.
The second suit, Technology, pays homage to previous space suit achievements, whilst adding aspects of the future to the design. It uses Luminex wire and light emitting patches across the upper torso giving it a blue glowing appearance that resembles a costume that could have been pulled out of the hit movie, Tron.
The final suit, Trends in Society, has been made to resemble NASAs interpretation of what everyday clothes may look like in the not too distant future. Mimicking the appearance of sportswear, it uses electroluminescent wire to create colourful patterns across the body and seams of the suit.
You can vote for your favourite suit here. I ended up choosing Technology because I’m a bit of a Tron fangirl, but I also really liked Biomimicry because it seemed like a lot more thought had gone into that design. You only have until 15th April to get your vote in, the winner being announced on the 30th April. At the moment, Technology seems to have a very strong lead.