New NASA suits turn astronaut training into weird high-fashion competition1 min read

The Johnson Space Center has revealed its latest design for new suits and NASA wants your input on which to create.

Three different models for the Z2 surface-specific planetary mobility suit have been released, all featuring futuristic design elements like electroluminescent wire and abrasion resistant panels.

NASA says it hopes to turn budding astronauts into fashionistas by including, “bright color scheme(s) to mimic the appearance of sportswear and the emerging world of wearable technologies.”

The three desgins, Biomimicry, Technology and Trends in Society vary dramatically from traditional space suits. They resemble otherworldly creatures like the Lord of the Rings Troll, deep sea favorite the Angler fish or perhaps a member of the Doctor Who extraterrestrial race, the Sontarans.

Unfortunately, the Z2 suit will never go (boldly or otherwise) further than the realm of a regular earthling. The suits are confined to training use and are not made of space-safe material, providing only abrasion/snag protection and a cover for technical details.

“For a flight suit which is actually used for a spacewalk, the cover layer performs many other important functions such as micrometeorite, thermal and radiation protection,” Johnson Space Center noted on its website.

Astronauts train in the non-flight Z2 and its predecessor the Z1, conducting tests in NASA’s vacuum chambers and in the neutral bouyancy lab, both of which simulate aspects of space walking.

Voting is open until midnight April 15, with a final suit due to be completed by November 2014.

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Sebastien Clarke
Sebastien Clarke

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