The concept of development takes new heights as NASA finishes open voting on its next generation of space suits. In 2012 NASA released the Z-1 design which looks a little like Buzz Lightyear’s outfit (1). The design was voted on by 200,000 people from around the world. It blends the old features with new features to create greater levels of functionality. Developers are not ready to move to infinity and beyond but are making a small step in that direction.
The public could choose between the Biomimicry, Technology, and Trends in Society designs (2). The Z-2 will be the next generation to be bested around 2020. Tests will be conducted to Neural Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL). The suits will be better than ones developed in the past and contain features like pressurization, breathable atmospheres, regulate carbon dioxide, and controlled temperature and waste (3).
In 2013 the ILC, the primary suit vendor, won $4.4 million contract to partner with Philadelphia University to develop, design and test the suit (4). The goal is to move into the next level of development for Mars missions and ensure that the suits are safer, economic, and extremely functional. The hope is to develop a stronger space program.
Why is this important? Space is still the next frontier. Not much has changed from Armstrong’s moon landing. It is still a step for mankind. Modern science is moving into greater detail here on Earth as well as in outer space. Telescopes, private investments, interstellar mapping, and other developments in technology are making space travel an important function of scientific effort. When we someday make our way out there we may find things that may be useful for further science and development.
You may see the designs here http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/z2/