Vote: NASA Confirms Next Generation Z-2 Spacesuit

Thursday, 01 May 2014 02:52 PM

By Michael Mullins

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The vote is in and NASA's next generation spacesuit is the Z-2 spacesuit.

The space agency revealed the new prototype on Wednesday after NASA's spacesuit design challenge in which participants were given three alternative designs to choose from, reported.

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The Z-2 spacesuit received 233,431 votes — about 63 percent of the vote. According to NASA, a final version of the suit concept will be complete by November 2014, at which point it will undergo an array of testing.

According to a NASA press release, the Z-2 suit prototype
will lead to the next generation of Z-Series suits that will one day be worn by astronauts as they take their first steps on Mars, which is the space agency's next major goal. NASA is presently developing technologies that would allow astronauts to live and work on the Red Planet.

Compared to the current spacesuit used by NASA scientists, the Z-2 spacesuit has a harder upper torso, making it more durable, reported.

"The cover layer of a non-flight suit still performs an important function in ground-based testing. The cover protects the lower layers and technical details from abrasion and snags during testing," NASA officials wrote in a press release Thursday.

"The cover layer on flight suits used for spacewalks performs many other important functions like protecting the spacewalker from micrometeorite strikes, the extreme temperatures in space and the harmful effects of radiation," the statement continued. "These requirements drive selection of specific high-performance materials and design details that aren’t necessary at this stage in a prototype suit."

In December, engineers at NASA's Johnson Space Center unveiled its Hero Valkyrie humanoid, a 6-foot, 266-pound robot designed to save people on earth in disaster scenarios while also being able to walk among astronauts in future space expeditions.

Much like the Z-2 spacesuit, the Hero Valkyrie humanoid is built for durability, with its designers saying the robot's "full body design" allows it to "intervene in terrestrial disaster scenarios, [and] also walk on Mars."

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