After a round of public voting, this is what NASA's next generation spacesuit, the Z-2, is going to look like. Like a chubby Buzz Lightyear lost his jetpack and got trapped in the TRON universe. Me? I tried voting for Garrus' spacesuit from Mass Effect but NASA was all, "That's a video game," and I was all, "Yeah -- that takes place in SPACE. Think about it." I'm not convinced they actually thought about it though.
There are many key advances to be found in the Z-2 suit when compared to the previous Z-1. The most significant is that the Z-1 had a soft upper torso and the Z-2 has a hard composite upper torso. This composite hard upper torso provides the much-needed long-term durability that a planetary Extravehicular Activity (EVA) suit will require. The shoulder and hip joints differ significantly based on extensive evaluations performed during the last two years with the Z-1 to look at different ways of optimizing mobility of these complex joints. Lastly, the boots are much closer in nature to those that would be found on a suit ready for space, and the materials used on the Z-2 are compatible with a full-vacuum environment.
Sure, but what about the electroluminescent light effects? Does those serve a purpose besides not really looking that cool? Or are they so you can better spot your fellow space rangers as they float off into space? Oh yeah, there he goes. Keeps getting smaller and smaller. More importantly -- what do you think aliens will think of our new spacesuits? Because that's very important to consider. Remember: you only get one chance to make a good first impression. And I would prefer that impression not leaving the aliens thinking, "Screw these tacky f***ers, let's just nuke their planet."
Keep going for a handful more pictures.
Thanks to Wilmersama, who plans on blasting off for space wearing nothing but long underwear and a smile.