NASA has officially released the details of its newest astronauts spacesuit prototype, with the real ones expected to be used in 2015 expeditions. This spacesuit is unlike any other, however, for it looks oddly familiar to many Disney Pixar film fans as NASA based this suit off of the attire of Toy Story’s original space ranger Buzz Lightyear. There are many purposes to this recreation, but to many it seems it is the best method to get children interested in space travel of the future.
The new “Z-1” suit was specially designed to be more flexible, maneuverable, and lightweight compared to previous designs such as the Apollo A7L (1969-72) or the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) (1982-Present). All spacesuits must be designed for the hardships faced before, during, and after the endeavours to the moon or mars.
NASA will continue testing this suit to ensure that it is able to maintain stability in a multitude of environments in order to keep astronauts safe. Desert research is the most common form of testing for the variety of suits in order to deem them safe for space travel. In the desert, subjects are asked to pick up rock samples to ensure that the suit is flexible enough to allow for bending and reaching.
The Z-1 has many new exciting features that definitely allow it to stand out including:
- A bubble helmet to allow for a larger range of degree measure.
- A new shoulder design to allow for greater mobility
- An upgraded life support system that actively removes Carbon Dioxide from the suit and replaces it with oxygen to keep a steady stream of breathing air supplied to the astronaut, therefore ending the need for canisters of CO2-absorbing lithium hydroxide.
- A Buzz Lightyear design with a white background and neon green stripes on the suit itself to resemble the space ranger himself.
- Reduces the chance of injury due to lighter equipment, therefore less pressure, and enhanced mobility in the legs and shoulder.
- One of the biggest improvements this suit acquires is its one-piece design that allows for easy access through a rear-entry hatch. This way, instead of being worn like clothing, the Z-1 is entered through its hatch in the back, as though it were a piece of spacecraft.This hatch can then be docked to an external port on a rover or space vehicle which makes switching between these two items easy and efficient.
Unlike many of the other prototypes now being tested at NASA, the Z-1 can be used by astronauts both on no-gravity surfaces such as the moon, but also in space itself. The suit port allows astronauts to slide directly into the spacesuit from within the space rover or other vehicle with ease. Along with the astronaut now situated within the suit, the suit detaches and brings along with it a hatch cover and portable life support system (PLSS). Earlier prototypes required that the astronauts pull on many separate parts and then manually attach them all together. This, however, was difficult, slow, and very risky. The suit appears to be very heavy according to many specialists in NASA, but once inflated it helps to support itself.
Written by Miranda Suhrbier, Teen Writer.