Which of these futuristic Z-2 spacesuits is the best? NASA says it’s all up to you
NASA has revolutionized the design of the traditional Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), with the end result being one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2012, the Z-1 “Buzz Lightyear” spacesuit.
Fast forward to 2014 and NASA now reveals the next step to the spacesuit’s design, the Z-2. This new spacesuit design takes on the original “Buzz Lightyear” slip-through design of the prototype Z-1, but gets a considerable boost in overall durability. The upper torso for example of the Z-2 is now tougher, harder, and more impact resistant.
Aside from the enhanced basic features though, what really makes the Z-2 spacesuit different from the original Z-1 is the design variants. NASA gave the Z-2 not only one cover design, but three, all of which having different bonus specific functions and features that are substantially beneficial to the entire spacesuit. NASA currently holds a public survey for these Z-2 cover design variants, and they are asking us common people to choose which of these designs they would build upon and develop before taking the Z-2 to the final development phase.
The first Z-2 design variant is the “Biomimicry” suit. This variant mimics deep sea bioluminescence with its lined electroluminescent wires, and imitates scaled carapaces of shelled aquatic life forms with its segmented pleats.
The second one is the “Technology” suit. This “Tron” suit uses Luminex wire and light emitting patches, as well as other modern electronic identification technologies that would help “tag” crew members during EVA missions.
The last design variant is the “Trends in Society” suit. The design is supposed to be a projection of what regular space clothing in the future might look like. Its theme is more akin to modern sportswear and fashionable wearable tech.
One interesting thing to note about the Z-2 spacesuit is that the developers and designers actually used 3D printed materials in constructing the prototypes, which is quite significant because of the growing importance 3D printing for future space missions.
Voting deadline is until April 15, and those who want to do so may go here.