NASA’s new Z-2 prototype spacesuit
May 2, 2014
With 233,431 votes, the “Technology” option has won NASA’s Z-2 Spacesuit design challenge with just over 63% of the total vote. This design now will be incorporated into the final version of the suit, which is expected to be ready for testing by November 2014.
Each new version of the Z-series will advance new technologies that one day will be used in a suit worn by the first astronauts to onto the Red Planet.
The most significant advanced in in the Z-2 suit (compared to the previous Z-1) is that the Z-1 had a soft upper torso and the Z-2 has a hard composite upper torso.
This composite hard upper torso provides the much-needed long-term durability that a planetary Extravehicular Activity (EVA) suit will require. The shoulder and hip joints differ significantly based on optimizing mobility of these complex joints. And the materials used on the Z-2 are compatible with a full-vacuum environment.
NASA currently is planning a very comprehensive test campaign for the Z-2 suit at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, the huge indoor pool used to train astronauts to spacewalk, and a site at Johnson that imitates the rocky Martian surface will help evaluate the suit’s mobility, comfort and performance.
With the Z-2, NASA will also employ cover layer design elements, like electroluminescent wiring, never used before in a spacesuit.
Engineers and scientists around the country are developing the technologies astronauts will use one day to live and work on Mars and safely return home from the next giant leap for humanity. Follow the progress at http://www.nasa.gov/exploration and http://www.nasa.gov/mars.