NASA shows off prototype spacesuit for journey to Mars
US Space Agency NASA has been showing off the wardrobe essentials for future astronauts looking for a new outfit for their first flight to Mars
NASA said the Z-2 spacesuit was only a prototype, but elements of it would be incorporated into the suit worn by the first humans to reach the Red Planet. The suit uses light-emitting patches and luminescent wire that could be customised to identify individuals.
The ‘technology’ design beat two others with 63 percent of a public vote of 233,431. The Z-2 will be built using 3D-printed parts, and 3D laser scans will ensure each suit fits each astronaut perfectly. It will be tested in vacuum chambers, at NASA’s training pool and at a site that imitates the rocky Martian surface. In 2012 NASA released the Z-1, which bore more than a passing similarity to the suit worn by fictional ‘space ranger’ Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Stories films. The first major overhaul of the spacesuit in about 30 years, the Z-1 was named as one of the year’s best inventions by Time magazine.
NASA said, “Each iteration of the Z-series will advance new technologies that one day will be used in a suit worn by the first humans to step foot on the Red Planet.” And the Z-2 ‘pays homage to the spacesuit achievements of the past while incorporating subtle elements of the future’.
Its hard composite upper torso ‘provides the much-needed long-term durability that a planetary extravehicular activity suit will require’, but despite its ‘aesthetic appeal’ the prototype was not made of the same durable material designed to protect space-walking astronauts from micro-meteorite strikes, extreme temperatures and radiation, NASA added.
Material prepared with aid of information agencies
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