NASA's New Spacesuit Design? To Infinity... and Beyond!
When NASA went back to the drawing boards to redesign the protective suit worn by astronauts, did engineers spend a little time taking notes from a Pixar cartoon classic?
Designed for increased flexibility and easy donning, the new green, black and white suit certainly looks familiar, if you've watched any of the Toy Story franchise. Here's an image of someone wearing one of NASA's new space suit offering, next to next to none other than plastic interstellar hero Buzz Lightyear himself.
Known as the Z-1 Prototype Spacesuit and Portable Life Support System 2.0, the single-piece suit has an entry hatch in the back, allowing an astronaut the ability to rapidly put the suit on and take it back off. Current donning and doffing takes a full hour.
The Z-1 suit follows designs for the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle missions, is the first redesign since 1992. While the Space Shuttle suits were specifically designed for EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity), the new Z-1 suit is designed both for in-space and planetary surface activity.
Here's an interview with NASA Spacesuit Engineer Amy Ross, discussing the advances and future use of the Z-1 prototype suit.
The Z-1 was listed as one of Time Magazine's best inventions of the year. Maybe the folks at Pixar should get a nod for the design as well?
Images courtesy NASA, Pixar