Here at ECN, we’ve been waiting with bated breath to hear which space suit design the public chose for the future trips to Mars. About a month ago, NASA announced they would hold a content to select what the suits would look like.
Let’s take a moment to review the suit, itself. It’s called the Z-2 and is the successor to the Z-1 suit. It was designed to deal with the impending issues of deep space travel as NASA makes a move towards trips that will send humans to different planets. The Z-1 dealt with the issues of providing flexible joints, allowing the suit directly to dock directly into the ship and providing more radiation protection for the wearer. The Z-2 dealt with issues like fit — they used 3D lasers to size the suits—, changed the upper torso to a hard material to provide more protection, utilized 3D printed parts, and integrated impact resistant composite structures. The suit still has some intense testing to go through before it’s approved for flight, but the basic shell is there.The interesting part is it looks radically different from the suit NASA has been using since the 1960s.
NASA then opened up the vote and allowed America to choose what the outside of the design would look for.
There were three options:
1. 1. Biomimocry: Designed to draw inspiration from the ocean and sea life.
2. 2. Technology: A natural progression from the Buzz Lightyear Z-2 that was based on looking futuristic.
3. 3. Trends in Society: Based on what clothing would look like in the future. (Actually ended up looking like post-apocalyptic clothing.)
I selected option 2 as the least objectionable and America — these are the people who replaced a classic Monopoly piece with a cat — agreed. With just over 63 percent of the vote, the space suit will take on a Technology theme and expected to be ready by November. This is obviously a purely aesthetic choice since the design is simply a cover layer to the materials that protect the astronaut from gases and radiation and also house some pretty serious electronics including a heads-up display.