It’s astounding to me that more big decisions aren’t solved by crowdsourcing opinions. I mean, it doesn’t always work so well when it comes to politics, but that’s because politics are evil. I’m talking about good decisions, like what should happen to characters on TV shows, what robots deserve their own stamps, and what NASA‘s spacesuits should look like. That last one actually was decided by the general public over the last couple of weeks, and NASA just announced the winner. With over 233,000 votes (63%), the “Technology” design takes the prize, and also happens to look like a cross between Tron and a Futurama robot in biker shorts.
You have may have seen this design for the Z-2 suit prototype already here on GFR, when we first talked about the voting process. All three potential designs also included a “Biomimicry” design and an extremely goofy looking “Trends in Society” option. It turns out people are way more into the cool, calming color blue for their electroluminescent lights than they are white and yellow. The “Technology” one was my favorite, though I didn’t even cast my vote. (The problem with voters today is…)
Don’t expect to ever see any future astronauts wearing this suit, however, because it is a prototype, after all. The Z-2’s job is essentially to fix design flaws of the Z-1 while making room for the Z-3 to later become the superior option. This design will be used in the intensive testing stage that NASA will put the Z-2 through over the next few months/years until work begins on the successor. The cover of the suit, designed by contractor ILC Dover and Philadelphia University, is suitable for testing measures, but the ones used for actual space travel require different elements to help block space radiation, insulate from extreme temperatures, and protect from micrometeorite impact. Luckily, we don’t need to be worried about any of these problems on Earth at this point in its experimental phase. Take a couple more looks at this future rave uniform.
Dubbed the “Buzz Lightyear suit” when it was revealed, the Z-2 is more advanced than its predecessor in several ways. Starting with a harder composite upper torso the suit will provide required long-term protection, which was something the Z-1’s soft torso couldn’t do. The shoulder and hip joints were redesigned to give the maximum amount of mobility, something the “Technology” look glowingly highlights. Plus, the boots have been upgraded to provide more comfort and stability for someone actually out in space. As well, the electroluminescent wiring is a new addition.
Congratulations, team. You have designed the future, or at least a small portion of it. Now let’s figure out how to work a tablet into the stomach of the Z-3.