NASA's New Spacesuits Can Handle The Worst Imaginable Environments

NASA space suitThe Z-1 is a prototype spacesuit.

Photo: NASA

NASA hasn’t designed a new spacesuit in 20 years. But with the possibility of sending an astronaut to the Moon, Mars or even an asteroid hanging in the future, the space agency needed something that could handle any kind of trip.  Behold the Z-1 prototype spacesuit [PDF], the first in a series being developed by the Advanced Exploration Systems spacesuit project.

Conner Flynn of technabob points out that the new suits look like Buzz Lightyear’s getup. We agree.

Unlike the current spacesuit, crew members enter the Z-1 through a hatch on back that attaches to the spacecraft. Because the new suit operates at the same pressure as the cabin, the wearer can spend less time “prebreathing,” or breathing in pure oxygen to prepare the body for something that would involve a significant change in pressure, like a spacewalk. 

The suit is also equipped with a backpack, or Portable Life Support System, that provides oxygen, removes carbon dioxide and cools the astronaut. 

The Z-1 is currently being tested in a vacuum chamber at the Johnson Space centre.  

NASA space suitTest subject Jason Norcross demonstrates the increased mobility of the Z-1 spacesuit.

Photo: NASA

For reference, Buzz Lightyear: 

Buzz Lightyear

Photo: Wikipedia

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