Vote For NASA's Next-Gen Spacesuit Design

Vote For NASA's Next-Gen Spacesuit Design

The great minds at NASA want the internet to choose which design it will use for its Z-2 next-generation spacesuit prototype.

Space. It's not somewhere you want to go unprepared. You need a towel, you need a good blaster at your side, you need a co-pilot named Dave and you need a spacesuit. That last one is probably the most important of all, yet even though it's been 45 years since man first walked on the moon, the fact is that to the casual eye, spacesuits haven't really changed much.

But if humanity (which is to say, the United States) is going to rekindle its pursuit of manned space exploration, it's going to need better duds than the ones worn by Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins and company. It's going to have to be more durable, more reliable, more functional - and it's going to have to look good. And that, believe it or not, is where you come in.

"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," NASA wrote on its "Spacesuit Design Vote" page. "The cover layer of a prototype suit is important as it serves to protect the suit against abrasion and snags during the rigors of testing. With the Z-2, we're looking forward to employing cover layer design elements never used in a spacesuit before."

To ensure that we don't end up sending our first explorers to Mars in Krogan war suits, NASA has posted three potential designs to choose from: Biomimicry, which "reflects the qualities that protect some of the Earth's toughest creatures"; Technology, paying "homage to spacesuit achievements of the past while incorporating subtle elements of the future"; and Trends in Society, "reflective of what everyday clothes may look like in the not-too-distant future."

The three designs share some common elements, including the use of electroluminescent wiring in the torso and "integration of the suit-port concept with a hard upper torso suit structure" - which does actually have a Krogan-esque look about it. They all make use of impact-resistant composite structures throughout, and feature the "most conformal and re-sizeable upper hard torso" yet devised.

The Z-2 suit is expected to be complete by November, but as a prototype it won't actually be going into space. "We will be conducting multiple vacuum chamber tests, including one series at full vacuum, mimicking the lack of atmosphere found in outer space. The suit will be tested at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL), the huge indoor pool NASA uses to train every astronaut in the technique of spacewalking," NASA explained. "Further testing at a rocky Martian surface analog site at the Johnson Space Center along with other settings will help us evaluate mobility, comfort and performance of the suit. Ultimately, all of these tests will guide us in designing the next suit in the Z-series."

They're all cool, but my vote is going to Technology, which for some reason - the colors, perhaps - reminds me very much of the Turians. The logo on the front is also very nu-Cylon, which I dig. And since we're apparently taking part in the democratic process here, I'd like to propose that we call this one the Zoot Suit. Get it? Z-2 Spacesuit - Z-2 Suit. Zoot Suit! Right? Right?

Eh, you kids. Voting will remain open until midnight (EDT) on April 15 at NASA's Spacesuit Design Vote website.

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Why would you ever NOT vote for the second one? It looks like its from Tron!

I'll be honest and say I'd rather technical experts figure this out for themselves, rather than go with the opinions of random pillocks like me on the internetz. I'M not going to have to be the one to work in space wearing one of these designs.

They all look like something designed for E.T.'s bodyshape.

Also no Superhero symbols? I am disappoint NASA.

Uhm... why don't they choose the most functional design themselves? A few aspects of this suit look like they are just for show rather than efficiency. For example the glowy parts. I guess they could be useful to keep track of astronauts while on a space walk, otherwise they are just a waste of energy. However, why let people choose on designs when for that purpose #2 is probably the best and many other designs would probably be even better (yet not as flashy, I guess).

Instead of these colours can we just have it white with a gold visor like before.
Those colours have utility and slightly help prevent things like radiation induced blindness and sudden bouts of skin boiling.

If I have to vote for one of these three, I guess I'd choose the third one. Because the first is too dark and the second looks like it's from tron.

Ah HA!

Having read the FAQ's, I now realise that none of these designs will actually see a space-walk.

This suit is meant for non-flight/training/prototype purposes.

EDIT: Also should have read the original article. D'OH!

I'm getting some serious "Tron" vibes from the "Technology" design.

So....yeah. That's the one that gets my vote.

:)

Anti-American Eagle:
Instead of these colours can we just have it white with a gold visor like before.
Those colours have utility and slightly help prevent things like radiation induced blindness and sudden bouts of skin boiling.

If I have to vote for one of these three, I guess I'd choose the third one. Because the first is too dark and the second looks like it's from tron.

Agreed. Even if it was just an appearance issue, I'd still go with the NASA Classic Style.

Please just make the best damn space suit you can make and not worry about how it looks, alright?

Fashion doesn't suit you NASA, you're supposed to be better then that.

All of those look horrible.

Valderis:
snip

Also: "That's it Veronica. No more sleepovers"

rofltehcat:
Uhm... why don't they choose the most functional design themselves? A few aspects of this suit look like they are just for show rather than efficiency. For example the glowy parts. I guess they could be useful to keep track of astronauts while on a space walk, otherwise they are just a waste of energy. However, why let people choose on designs when for that purpose #2 is probably the best and many other designs would probably be even better (yet not as flashy, I guess).

Mainly because this is not going to be the final design that makes it into space, and so it can afford to be more frivolous fashion-wise. This design will be for training and testing purposes. The final suit will, no doubt, incorporate much more functional features, and won't likely be up for public vote. But from NASA's POV, getting everyday people involved with the prototype process is a good way to pump up publicity for their return to manned spaceflight.

I voted for "technology," BTW. The other designs just aren't doing it for me.

So its the same suit and they are just picking a color palette. I don't like any of these.

the second one is leading with 63.9% of all votes. i think we can pick oru toys and go home, its decided now. Well, unless your one of those people that can throw 5000 of your followers to vote for anything. In which case - biomimicry is what you should push.

Those are nice krogan suits, but where are the human ones?

TECHNOLOGY FTW!

At some point, I'd love to see NASA put some game-inspired designs out there for a future round of voting - Hell, you could do it based solely on Mass Effect characters alone. It's not where I'd want to see millions of development dollars going, but as kind of a "final coat of polish" for a one-off prototype suit I think it'd be pretty cool, and a good way to stir up interest in the mission and its processes, too.

I really like the second one, gives me one helluva sci-fi vibe. To think that it might become real is so weird, I'm still not fully used to all the sci-fi stuff we actually have in real life now.

To be fair, even without the fancy looks it already looks so damn sci-fi. Damn I wonder where we'll be at in 50 years.

Defective_Detective:
I'll be honest and say I'd rather technical experts figure this out for themselves, rather than go with the opinions of random pillocks like me on the internetz. I'M not going to have to be the one to work in space wearing one of these designs.

It's just the looks they can vote for I reckon. The actual technology within? Yeah that's settled.

This is still so impractically huge, I think they should be trying to improve on a compression suit design.

Is it just me, or did the picture on the homepage link to this article look like EVE from Wal-E? That one gets my vote.

Valderis:
Please just make the best damn space suit you can make and not worry about how it looks, alright?

Fashion doesn't suit you NASA, you're supposed to be better then that.

Actually, I am glad NASA is doing this sort of thing. Making a better looking space suit, so long as it is functionally identical as they are claiming it will be, will go a long way to increasing public interest in the space program. Having the public participate in the space program, even to this small degree, will increase public involvement and investment in the space program, ultimately resulting in greater public support and funding for the program.

The esoteric nature of the space program and its perceived status as "above" concerns like public image have alienated the space program from the common people. If we want support for the space program, we need to give the public a understandable reason it is important (or at least interesting) and a tangible connection to the program, even if it is only fluff like the fashion of the space suit.

what is this...no space marine type full body armor like in SC2 or Warhammer 40k....I am dissapointed.
Though I donno, if I look at the suits, am I the only one whos reminded of Quasimodo from the hunchback of Notre Dame?
Only thing that would really be missing are the gargoyles in the background and I'd think this would be some kind of hunchback space odyssey reboot from Disney.
Nevertheless, (why isnt there a space marine..) ehh, I guess from the pics, as someone else mentioned, No.2 seeing as it looks a bit like Tron..Quasimodo in Tron, but Tron nevertheless.

As of this post, the Tron suit has 64% of the votes. Its got to happen anyway, neon was always the future.

 

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