The next generation of NASA spacesuits will look a whole lot more sci-fi than any of their predecessors. The space agency wants to know what you think about the fashion direction of its new Z-2 suit, which it hopes will eventually be used by astronauts for surface missions on other planets. You can vote for your favorite design through April 15.
NASA is playing with three very different conceptual designs for the Z-2. The first option is called "Biomimicry." It pulls its cues from the harsh environment of the deep ocean, complete with bioluminescent strands of wire across the top. The material has an almost eel-like texture.
The "Technology" suit looks like it was inspired by "Tron" thanks to the idea of using Luminex wire and light-emitting patches.
The final entry is called "Trends in Society." This version imagines what sportswear would look like in the future. Think of it as the equivalent of what George Jetson would wear to work. It's for the astronaut who wants to breathe on alien worlds, and look good while doing so. It features contrast stitching and water droplet-like patches.
NASA expects to have the prototype suit built by November. The "Technology" suit is currently leading the voting by a wide margin. The fashion-forward "Trends in Society" suit is trailing quite a bit as the least favorite option.
The Z-2 should be quite an impressive creation by the time it's done. It will be built with a hard upper torso and will be tested in a vacuum chamber at full vacuum to see how it would react to a space-like environment. NASA is using 3D human laser scans and 3D printing during the development process.
The suits will also be tested in an area designed to mimic the landscape conditions on Mars. Thanks to the renderings of the three competing looks, we know the new spacesuit will look sweet, too.