It has been 45 years since Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. Astronauts haven’t changed their sense of fashion much in that time. In fact, they have been wearing the same stylish spacesuits since 1982. NASA recently announced that its astronauts will finally be getting a new wardrobe.
NASA has already been designing its new Z-2 spacesuits. How exactly does that Z-2 differ from its predecessor? The biggest difference is the material used for the upper torso. The Z-1 was very soft. It may have been fine for a mission to the moon on a nice day. However, it couldn’t possibly hold up on a very windy day on the moon’s surface. It would also be totally ineffective on Mars. The torso for the new Z-2 will be made from a much stronger composite material. As CNN’s Jarrett Bellini said, it is perfect for cage-fighting on Mars.
Amy Ross leads the division that develops new spacesuits for NASA. She confirmed that NASA will spend nearly $4.5 million on the Z-2 spacesuit. Ross said that the new spacesuit will be both as tight as a basketball and capable of maneuvering on the rough terrain at Mars. They have taken advantage of a number of new technologies and design processes to make this possible. Ross said that 3-D scanning technology has helped them conceptualize the design.
Designing spacesuits for planetary missions is much more difficult than for space stations or spaceships. The climate, terrain and gravity varies drastically between different planets. Ross and her team need to make sure that their spacesuit will stand up to the challenges posed by different planets while allowing astronauts to move freely. They are confident that the new Z-2 suit will be able to achieve this goal. Of course, we will only know when we put a man on Mars for the first time.
The new spacesuit apparently is designed to endure the harsh terrain of the Red Planet. NASA hopes to put people on Mars within the next 20 years. Over 60 of the brightest minds in the country are working towards this goal. Developing the ideal spacesuit is one of the many milestones they need to reach. Unfortunately, there are a number of other problems that they will need to address as well. NASA will need to work closely with private businesses and other governments to finance the mission, because the organization’s budget has been significantly impacted by budget cuts.