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NASA Wants You to Help Design Its Newest Spacesuit

By Michele Berger
Published: April 9, 2014

Space fasionistas — you know who you are — NASA wants your help in picking the design of its next spacesuit. The Z-2, a follow-up to the agency’s popular Z-1 suit, offers three pretty space age designs to choose from.

There’s “biomimicry,” which as its name suggests, mimics nature, and more specifically, the creatures of the ocean’s depths, both in their bioluminescent glow and their scaly skin. As NASA put its, “this design reflects the qualities that protect some of Earth’s toughest creatures.” Frankly, it’s kind of reminiscent of a kid in a puffy snow jacket, but it gains some cool factor with its glow-in-the-dark light show.

(MORE: Eight Ways We’ve Copied Nature and Gained From It

The “technology” design is option B, one that NASA says, “pays homage to spacesuit achievements of the past while incorporating subtle elements of the future,” elements like light-emitting patches. Remember the game Simon, how oddly shaped, colored areas lit up? It’s kind of like that, only the same color glows across the entire suit, and its goal is to help identify crewmembers on spacewalks (not try to avoid an annoying buzz).

“Trends in Society” is the third pattern, and it showcases what look like large raindrops in the front. NASA claims it’s based on what clothing might look like in the not-too-distant future. Lines around the drops light up in the dark.

You have until Tuesday, April 15 to vote. (Vote here.) NASA expects to complete the winning design by November of this year.

That doesn’t mean the suit will ever see the moon and the stars up close, though. These Z-suits are only prototypes; many of its features, including the cover layer, wouldn’t be suitable for space flight or a spacewalk. Still, it’s the next step in space fashion, one that will eventually lead to the suits astronauts will wear to explore Mars, deep space and beyond. 

MORE: A Look at the Spacesuit Options (PHOTOS) 

The "Biomimicry" design. NASA is asking people to vote on which of the Z-2 suit designs it should move forward with. (NASA)


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