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According to Extreme Tech, NASA is preparing to roll out a new prototype space suit that will incorporate the latest aerospace 3d printing technology in their design and manufacture. The suits, called the Z-2, will not be used on any space missions but will be tested extensively in simulated space environments. In this way various technological enhancements for the production suits that astronauts where wear on deep space missions will be refined.
The suits will be custom fitted to an individual astronaut by laser scanning his or her body. Then the body’s parameters will be incorporated into the design of the space suit’s parts that will then be customized on a 3d printer.
Each of the Z-2 suits will have a different covering that will have an electroluminiscent pattern on the front that will provide easy identification for the astronaut wearing it on a planetary surface. The suits will also incorporate the “suitdock” concept in which the suit itself is the airlock in a habitat or enclosed surface rover. The astronaut will be able to slide into the suit, lock it up, and then detach from the habitat or rover to do an EVA.
NASA is attempting to engage the public by asking them to vote on what “style” the Z-2 suit will be. The proposed styles are:
Biomimcry which would mimic the bioluminescent qualities of aquatic creatures which dwell at incredible depths as well as the scaly skin of fish and reptiles
Technology which is like Biomimcry, only with a certain science fiction aesthetic
Trends in Society which is supposed to look like sportswear
Voting ends on April 15, 2014 with the new suit to be rolled out in the autumn.