NASA astronauts may soon have a different way of walking in space, with developers working on a new spacesuit, known as the Z-1, that could replace suits such as these. (Photo : Reuters)
To infinity and beyond!
NASA's future astronauts could be exploring space in a brand new spacesuit - with a familiar look.
The new Z-1 spacesuit-currently in its prototype phase-is described as being flexible, able to allow astronauts to walk in microgravity and still move around while walking on the surface of a planet.
In addition, the suit's lime-green stripes are reminiscent of the suit worn by the character Buzz Lightyear in Disney's wildly popular "Toy Story" film franchise.
NASA finished testing the suit earlier this month, which involved testing suit performance and develop interfaces with the suitport and exploration vehicles through pressurized suit evaluations.
Creators of the suit were going for a more versatile design than the current iconic spacesuit used by astronauts, known as an Extravehicular Mobility Unit. The suit was designed to help astronauts as they constructed the International Space Station, while an original version of it helped NASA spacemen walk on the moon during the famous Apollo visits.
This new version, according to Amy Ross, part of the development team that constructed the suit, has several distinct features.
"One of the big differences is the rear-entry design," Ross, said during a NASA video interview, according to SPACE.com "So the shuttle EMU splits at the waist and you put pants on and you put the top on separately and they connect in the middle. Whereas with this suit, the subject crawls in through the back, and then we just shut the door."
That means that astronauts will be able to enter the suit quicker than they do now, and astronauts may be able to avoid shoulder injuries. And new technology in the suit will also be able to help astronauts cool down faster and filter out carbon dioxide with more ease.
"The suit actually contains several hard mobility elements,' spacesuit engineer Kate Mitchell told the Daily Mail. "The term 'soft' is intended to convey the idea that the primary structures of the suit are pliable fabrics when unpressurized."
In addition, NASA developers are in the process of developing a new life-support backpack for the suit, which will be designed to be more efficient and less susceptible to picking up contaminants.