NASA has completed testing on a new prototype spacesuit and it looks like the animators from Toy Story had a hand in the design. The spacesuit has a hunched back look with a big round dome on top along with some 80s-style bright green stripes. The resemblance between NASA’s prototype spacesuit and Buzz Lightyear is undeniable.
I also see more than a little Bioshock Big Daddy style in the hunched shoulders and large helmet port. Resemblance to animated movie and videogame characters aside, this new spacesuit is a big deal for NASA and astronauts who will be working and living in space for future missions. One of the key features that you can’t miss on the spacesuit is the massive metal oval on the back.
That giant oval offers a large area allowing the astronauts to get into and out of the spacesuits more quickly and easily. Getting in and out of the suit quickly isn’t all that massive port allows. That port on the back of the suit also allows the astronauts to dock themselves to a spacecraft eliminating the need for airlocks.
Presumably, not having to design an airlock into a spacecraft would save significantly on space aboard the craft. The prototype spacesuit is also highly mobile using bearings in the joints to give astronauts lots of flexibility and maneuverability. That may mean rather than having to hop around like the Apollo astronauts did on the moon, astronauts using the Z-1 could move more naturally and gracefully.
The suit also has improved radiation protection allowing astronauts to remain in space or on the surface of alien worlds for longer periods of time. NASA has two more prototype suits planned with construction on the Z-2 expected to begin soon. The goal is to have a Z-3 version of the spacesuit ready for astronauts on the ISS by 2017.