NASA and fashion seem like a strange combo. It also seems strange asking science fans about designs. However, NASA is offering scientists, fashion experts and any space fans out there a chance to help decide what their new space suits will look like via online voting.
Where else can everyone help design something sure to head to outer space? It would be cool to design something for NASA from scratch, but that would not be practical. So, NASA is offering three different designs they have vetted for Earthlings to choose between until April 15.
The winning suit, which will be called the Z-2 Spacesuit, will be used in the Mars program, so they are integrating new technologies and materials. They will actually begin use and testing of the winning design to protect astronauts while they train in vacuüm chamber tests and at a Martian surface analog site in the Johnson Space Center.
The Z-2 prototypes build on the Z-1 suit, which TIME magazine called one of the Best Inventions of 2012. The Z-2, according to NASA, will be the first to use 3D human laser scans and hardware for development and sizing, featuring the most advanced impact resistant materials, integrates a suit-port concert with the hard upper torso structure, and will be the first suit to be tested in full vacuum settings. The technology was so advanced that NASA wanted to give the suits a memorable appearance, which lead to the current options.
The cover layers for the new space suits were designed by the Philadelphia University’s School of Design and Engineering and ILC Dover, which is a long-time NASA spacesuit vendor and made the airbag system for the Mars Rover as well as safety equipment for homeland security.
The three designs for new NASA space suits that fans are voting on have been named “Biomimcry,” ‘Technology” and “Trends in Society” to reflect their fashion inspirations. The suits look more like something from a movie than the old Gemini jumpsuit or Apollo moon men looks. They are futuristic and mainly grey with bright highlights.
Biomimicry draws inspiration from aquatic creatures and scaly skin fish and reptiles. It used segments pleats at joints. It also features electroluminescent wire that becomes apparent and glows in reduced light.
Currently leading the polling, Technology pay homage to suits of the past but has a contemporary jogging or cycling attire look with Luminex light-emitting patches (think light reflective patches on clothing). The patches can be varied to make it easy to readily distinguish one astronaut from another. There are collapsing pleats for mobility and abrasion resistant panels.
Trends in Society mimics the appearance of sportswear (the pants look like some spotted on the slopes) and uses the latest wearable technologies. There are gore pleats with contrasting stitching throughout to make movement easy. There are also electroluminescent wires and patches in various places.
Readers can see 2D and 3D versions of the designs as well as cast their vote using the NASA link below. NASA fans have until the April 15 deadline for voting on future astronaut fashion and the new Z-2 space suits.
By Dyanne Weiss