People can vote on NASA's next generation spacesuit

By: Matt McGovern Email
By: Matt McGovern Email
NASA is considering three different options.

Participants can choose between 3 design models.

(CNN) - The July 21, 1969, headline of the New York Times read, "MEN WALK ON MOON."

But had Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin not been wearing their fancy A7L spacesuits when they stepped off the Eagle, readers would probably have woken up to "WELL, THAT GOT MESSY."

Of course, the Apollo 11's original A7L spacesuit was a technological achievement for its time. But like all things NASA, it was a constant work in progress, and four missions later when Apollo 15 blasted off for Pittsburgh, astronauts began wearing the A7LB.

See what they did there? They added a B.

Most notably, among some other minor changes, the A7LB provided more waist mobility for sitting in the rovers. But it was also probably just as difficult to change your socks.

Since the Apollo missions, spacesuits have continued to change and advance, always reaching for the limits of science and imagination. Though, I am holding back a certain amount of praise for NASA until they finally engineer a loose-fitting space Snuggie.

What's the point of going into the cosmos if you have to wear pants?

Today, NASA is once again deep into developing a whole new spacesuit, and this time, you actually get to help decide the design.

But just the appearance. Not any of the technical specs. That would just be reckless.

On Monday, voting started on the new Z-2 spacesuit. Participants can choose between three design models, all of which are so futuristically ridiculous that they are simply amazing. I love them.

The new spacesuits are a direct improvement to the current prototype Z-1, which had a soft upper torso. The Z-2 is made of state-of-the-art hard composite, perfect for cage fighting on Mars. Which is probably the first thing we'll do with the Red Planet after we put up a Wal-Mart.

The Z-2 is also the first spacesuit to use 3-D laser scanning and 3-D printing.

So, clearly, there's a bit of serious technology going on here. Though, with all due respect to NASA, none of this stacks up to the vision and engineering of the Sports Illustrated football phone.

Really, that thing was a technological wonder.

But so are the new Z-2 spacesuits, and when you go online to vote, you'll have three options.

The first option, "Biomimicry," is inspired by the oceans of Earth and mimics some of the bioluminescent qualities of fish and reptiles. Its signature feature is electroluminescent wire that stretches across the upper torso and becomes visible in low light.

To me, this is the least interesting of the three designs, though its reptilian outer shell might buy us some time with our new alien overlords.

The second design is called "Technology" and uses Luminex wire and light-emitting patches that can help crew members easily identify each other on spacewalks.

It's actually a cool-looking design, but I'm pretty sure they could've just saved a bunch of money by stealing a box of those "Hello, My Name is _____" stickers from a company retreat.

The third option is called "Trends in Society," and with a bright color scheme mimicking athletic training gear, it's supposed to reflect what everyday clothes might look like in the future.

Keeping to its name, the "Trends in Society" spacesuit proudly supports legalized marijuana and doesn't want to have kids.


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