NASA's Z-1 Spacesuit Passes Testing

JonB

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Sep 16, 2012
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NASA's Z-1 Spacesuit Passes Testing


Ingredients: One radical new entrance mechanism, a dash of Buzz Lightyear.

As part of a program to have a new suit spaceworthy and up to the International Space Station by 2017, NASA has completed testing on and approved a prototype it's calling the Z-1. The principal design goal of the new suits is that, well, nobody knows where they're going to have to go. NASA's next decade or so could see the agency gearing up for all manner of different programs - and a variety of destinations on the moon or beyond. The suit is geared with two major features: Increased mobility and a large suit entrance port. The suit port is essentially a door on the back of the suit, through which the astronaut can easily step to be suddenly wearing the suit, effectively negating the need for an airlock by possibly attaching the suit to the side of the station. Finally, the suit will include increased radiation protection, allowing longer spacewalks than are currently feasible.

The flexibility of the suit was increased by adding bearings to the joints, helping solve the stiffness of current generation space suits. Of course, the astronaut will still be struggling with their own air bags, so don't expect any astronaut acrobatics soon. The mobility combined with the radiation protection will give astronauts a lot of ability to explore extraplanetary environments in a way that they haven't been able to, and the suit entrance port will make spacewalks much easier than in the past. NASA has now finished testing the Z-1, which was never intended to be more than a prototype, and Z-2 testing will begin fairly soon.

Here's hoping they keep Buzz's flashy green color scheme.

Source: Tested [http://www.tested.com/science/space/452369-nasa-finishes-testing-prototype-z-1-space-suit/]

[http://www.escapistmagazine.com/content/eve/science.php]

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Quaxar

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Sep 21, 2009
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On an unrelated note, ESA has just revealed their own design based on a cowboy suit, announcing that NASA had "a friend in them".
 

Daaaah Whoosh

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Jun 23, 2010
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I fail to see how strapping space suits to the sides of a space ship is going to be a good idea. Seems like a very easy way to have hull breaches when space dust rips a space hole straight through the space fabric.
 

Twixley

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Nov 30, 2009
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Daaaah Whoosh said:
I fail to see how strapping space suits to the sides of a space ship is going to be a good idea. Seems like a very easy way to have hull breaches when space dust rips a space hole straight through the space fabric.
The suit is designed to eliminate the lengthy process of de-pressurization and re-pressurization of an airlock, but this doesn't mean they will let it just flopp around on the outside of the space station. Depending on where they end up using them I'm sure they will be stored in protected locations.
In the case of the station I'm sure they will be in an already de-pressurized chamber, reducing the lengthy prep process of an EVA to the complexity of opening a door :)
 

Clive Howlitzer

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Jan 27, 2011
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I miss those more recent space activity suits that NASA stopped funding in the 70s resurfacing lately. They are more stylish. The ones that utilized counter pressure instead of a full suit.
 

Sean951

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Daaaah Whoosh said:
I fail to see how strapping space suits to the sides of a space ship is going to be a good idea. Seems like a very easy way to have hull breaches when space dust rips a space hole straight through the space fabric.
If it goes through a space suit, odds are it already went through/could go through the rest of the vehicle. Space debri travels quite fast, as do the vehicles.
 

matrix3509

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NASA going back to the moon? That's a lul-worthy thought.

In fact NASA sending a person anywhere farther than LEO just makes me chuckle uncontrollably.
 

csoloist

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This thing looks an awful lot like those old Soviet era Orlan suits. What happened to those awesome full hard suits that NASA was messing with in the 80s? This is supposed to be the future goddamnit.
 

Quaxar

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Twixley said:
Daaaah Whoosh said:
I fail to see how strapping space suits to the sides of a space ship is going to be a good idea. Seems like a very easy way to have hull breaches when space dust rips a space hole straight through the space fabric.
The suit is designed to eliminate the lengthy process of de-pressurization and re-pressurization of an airlock, but this doesn't mean they will let it just flopp around on the outside of the space station. Depending on where they end up using them I'm sure they will be stored in protected locations.
In the case of the station I'm sure they will be in an already de-pressurized chamber, reducing the lengthy prep process of an EVA to the complexity of opening a door :)
Not to forget if you want to go to mars this is the way to go since you can easily avoid dragging the toxic dust into your habitat.
 

Skeleon

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Cool; imagine being a Mars colonist. Instead of grabbing your umbrella on a rainy day, you just step into the suit and are on your merry way. Okay, maybe not quite the same as grabbing an umbrella, but still.
 

oliver.begg

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Oct 7, 2010
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so these are going to be sold to the russians in exchange for seats on their rockets? or are they now dealing with the chinese.

i LOL'ed when China had a better space program then the USA
 

TIMESWORDSMAN

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Mar 7, 2008
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I have a question, and I know there may be no answer, but I must at least ask.

Why are spacesuits white?

I can think of several possible reasons, from deflecting sunlight and radiation to colored fabrics being more expensive, but my knowledge of spacesuits is not enough to come up with an answer. Can anyone help me out?
 

Redlin5_v1legacy

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Aug 5, 2009
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To infinity and beyond!

More mobility is definitely a plus. Watching current spacewalks makes me think about primitive medieval armored plates and how they restricted movement.
 

lechat

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we should prolly just keep out of space until we master FTL or have a few stargates ready to go
i really don't see the point of flying around for a while and bringing back a few rocks. for fucks sake the average douche with a handglider can do that
 

Zen Toombs

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lechat said:
i really don't see the point of flying around for a while and bringing back a few rocks. for fucks sake the average douche with a handglider can do that

Anyways, this looks very interesting. NASA looks like it will need a stronger space program to give it some use, but it looks interesting.
 

Starik20X6

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Oct 28, 2009
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"These suits are amazing, but Mr. NASA-Guy, can they fly?"

"Well no, but they can fall with style..."
 

Joccaren

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lechat said:
we should prolly just keep out of space until we master FTL or have a few stargates ready to go
i really don't see the point of flying around for a while and bringing back a few rocks. for fucks sake the average douche with a handglider can do that
So, basically, we should never go to space.

There are reasons to go into space. For one, the Earth has rather limited resources. If we want more raw metals and substances than we can easily obtain here, having mining colonies on other planets would be beneficial.
In addition, living space and food production space on Earth is also very limited. The more people we get, the less room we have - we need places to put those people, places to create food for them to eat, places for them to work, water for them to drink - ect. Having an entire other planet of terrain in which we could do this would be quite helpful, as opposed to turning all suburbs and cities into metropolis like Tokyo.
Of course we are a while off needing this, and we don't yet have the technology for it either, however additional land and resources are something we do need thanks to how much we consume - Earth won't last forever.

In addition such rocks are useful for research into the universe outside of Earth, and understanding the past of the universe. We know everything there is to know about those rocks that a handglider can bring back, but we know little about the rocks hidden inside a comet that has been in deep space for the last 10,000 years, and we can find out information that, whilst not necessary or necessarily helpful, helps us complete our knowledge of the universe.

To be honest having FTL or Stargates would provide no greater need for us to head into space for the next 500 million years or so. All we'd be doing is heading to other planets that we could exploit for resources and space, and we can do that within our own solar system presently. The major draw of it would be simple exploration for shits and giggles, with little practical purpose until our sun is close to going Nova, or we run out of resources/space in our solar system.

OT: Overall the suit is nice, but as has been said a hundred times by now, NASA would need a decent space program to use it with. As is, its like selling your car to buy some fuel.