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How will NASA's strangest spacesuit help people get back to the moon?

American astronauts still fly inspace in spacesuits that have hardly changed since the 1990s. But these bulky suits have been in need of modernization for a very long time - especially since NASA intends to send people back to the surface of the moon in the next decade. A few years ago, the organization already demonstrated updated xEMU and OCSS spacesuits, but production problems arose so serious that the return of astronauts to the moon had to be postponed. Recently, the agency proposed the development of new space suits on the shoulders of private companies Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace. After that, very interesting details began to appear about the spacesuits of the future - for example, it became known that they could become similar to the costume of the cartoon character Buzz Lightyear.

NASA's Z-1 Spacesuit Prototype

Content

  • 1 Buzz Lightyear style spacesuit
  • 2 Features of the experimental suit Z-1
  • 3 Cons of the Z-1 Experimental Suit
  • 4 Features of the new Z-2 suit
  • 5 What will be the suits for the flight to the moon

Space suit in the style of "Buzz Lightyear"

According to Space.com, NASA representatives recently gave Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace all the information that was collected during the development of the Z-1 spacesuit prototype. It was introduced to the world in 2012 and immediately began to be compared with the costume of the Toy Story cartoon character Buzz Lightyear. In the image below, you can see that the real and fictional suits are indeed very similar in both shape and color.

Do you see similarities too?

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Features of the experimental suit Z-1

The prototype of the Z-1 suit was developed at a time whenwhen NASA had no idea where people would fly first - to the Moon, Mars or another planet. When creating the suit, the experts wanted to make the astronauts feel as free as possible inside it. The space suits of the 1990s certainly weren’t such, because being in them, the astronauts could not even bend down freely, let alone turn their bodies.

Astronauts stumbled and fell in old spacesuits.

To provide more flexibility, the Z-1 prototypeequipped with a large number of moving parts in the most important places like knees, elbows, stomach and so on. During the tests, it was proved that the new suit really allows you to bend over things, take them in your hands and make other movements that were previously inaccessible.

The Z-1 suit was supposed to give the astronauts greater mobility, although you can’t tell from the outside

Another important feature of the spacesuit prototypeZ-1 was that it was created from the best materials at that time. What is seen in the photographs is just a strong outer shell that protects the astronauts from external threats. Under it there are several more layers: one protects from cosmic radiation, a mixture of polyurethane and nylon ensures the tightness of the suit and does not allow air to escape, and a polyester shell does not allow the suit to lose its shape. Specialists also reported on a complex layer of composite materials that protects against temperature changes and makes staying in the suit extremely comfortable.

Z1 suit test

Special attention is given to the universal port,which is located at the back of the suit. It was reported that with the help of it, astronauts could connect to the systems of the spacecraft and, for example, replenish the supply of vital oxygen. Or, an autonomous life support system could be connected to this port so that astronauts could freely walk on the surface of the Moon, Mars or other planets without being tied to a spacecraft.

Universal port on the back of the suit

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Cons of the experimental Z-1 suit

In 2012, the suit passed a series of tests invacuum chamber. For all its advantages, the space suit had serious disadvantages. The biggest of them was considered poor tightness, which put the life of the astronauts in great danger. Because of this, the development of the prototype was completed, but the engineers decided to try to create an improved version of it.

With all the pluses, the Z-1 prototype had big flaws

Features of the new Z-2 suit

An improved spacesuit appeared in 2014and was named Z-2. It received many improvements, thanks to which astronauts could not only bend over, but also get up from a prone position, move over rough terrain and perform other complex actions.

The prototype of the Z-2 suit existed only in pictures

What will be the suits for the flight to the moon

At the moment, these prototypes have remained inhistory, but the information that was collected during their development can be very useful in creating a new generation of spacesuits. It is safe to assume that Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace will focus on the mobility of future suits, and the Z-1 and Z-2 prototypes will greatly help them in this. And their appearance is unlikely to be “cartoonish” - however, you can’t be 100% sure of anything.

It is not known exactly what the suits for flying to the moon will look like, but we already know about their features.

When the suits are officially shown, we will definitely tell you about it. In order not to miss, subscribe to our telegram channel.

It is worth noting that spacesuits for flying to the moonwill be released in two forms. The first one will be worn by people during the flight inside the spacecraft, and the second one - during the exit into outer space. And between them there will obviously be a very big difference both in appearance and design. You can read more about what they will definitely become in this material.