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NASA Puts Its New Spacesuit Design To a Public Vote

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the i-don't-see-the-starfleet-logo-anywhere dept.

NASA 127

An anonymous reader writes "NASA, in collaboration with ILC and Philadelphia University, has designed three different cover layers for its new spacesuit prototype, Z-2. NASA will let the public decide which of the three designs will actually be built. Voting is open through April 15, 2014, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Here are brief descriptions of the three designs: 'The "Biomimicry" design draws from an environment with many parallels to the harshness of space: the world's oceans. Mirroring the bioluminescent qualities of aquatic creatures found at incredible depths, and the scaly skin of fish and reptiles found across the globe, this design reflects the qualities that protect some of Earth's toughest creatures. ... "Technology" pays homage to spacesuit achievements of the past while incorporating subtle elements of the future. By using Luminex wire and light-emitting patches, this design puts a new spin on spacewalking standards such as ways to identify crew members. ... "Trends in Society" is based off of just that: being reflective of what every day clothes may look like in the not too distant future. This suit uses electroluminescent wire and a bright color scheme to mimic the appearance of sportswear and the emerging world of wearable technologies.'"

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Options? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581045)

They all look the same...

Re: Options? (5, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 7 months ago | (#46581073)

They're all pretty fugly. The Buzz Lightyear looking one is the only one that doesn't make the wearer look stupid.

Re: Options? (2, Insightful)

stoploss (2842505) | about 7 months ago | (#46581407)

They're all pretty fugly. The Buzz Lightyear looking one is the only one that doesn't make the wearer look stupid.

Ugh, I know. When comparing these options to the Z-1 suit at the top, I got this strange feeling like I had when comparing Windows 7 to Windows 8... "Seriously? Why can't we have the one that looks like something designed by a sane group rather than this abortion of an "upgrade"?"

Unfortunately, the astronauts can't simply wear these inside-out to hide the horrible flair spewed all over the outside of the suit.

Re: Options? (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 7 months ago | (#46581561)

What an excellent replication of the modern democratic process! What would you like to drink? Coke, Pepsi or New Coke?

Re: Options? (1)

ButchDeLoria (2772751) | about 7 months ago | (#46581973)

At least New Coke was made with cane sugar.

Re: Options? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46584429)

I'll have some kool-aid, thank you...

Re: Options? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46584879)

Coke should just give up and quit. Even though it's the best option, they're splitting the vote with New Coke, which (although terrible) is still better than Pepsi.

Re: Options? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 7 months ago | (#46583001)

I agree the white&limegreen Z-1 looks better than all the others combined.

More importantly, are there benefits to having bright or dark colors and can the luminescent lines be used for practical reasons?

Assuming the visual design of these suits is irrelevant to it's usability (if not there should not be vote), why not let the astronauts decide for themselves?

Re: Options? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46585255)

I can imagine scenarios where the pattern of luminescent lines could be designed in such a way to give at-a-glance 3-D orientation cues to observers in shadowed or otherwise suboptimal lighting environments. I don't think any of the luminescent patterns on these suits appear to be designed for that use case, though.

Re: Options? (2, Funny)

kangsterizer (1698322) | about 7 months ago | (#46581909)

I know right, the most important thing in space is to look cool, not convenience.

Re: Options? (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 7 months ago | (#46584395)

I know right

From wrong?? Seriously; just because our speech might sound like abject, ignorant shit does not mean we can't do a little better when we're putting words down on paper (so-to-speak)...

Then again, as Americans, I suppose we've got ourreputation to uphold. :p

Re: Options? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46582161)

The Buzz Lightyear looking one is the only one that doesn't make the wearer look stupid.

The Buzz Lightyear looking one isn't part of the vote because it is just a design mockup that traded functionality for looks.
The three options you can vote on are all the same physical design, the vote is for the colors/lights only.

why should we care? (1)

Mishotaki (957104) | about 7 months ago | (#46582557)

as per the article:

Is the design that is selected going to fly to space? No, as the Z-series is still in the prototype or non-flight phase.

why the **** should we care then?

Re: Options? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 7 months ago | (#46583217)

It's fitting, since spacewalking in LEO really is just falling with style :-P

NASA's attempt at Case Modding (1)

Narrowband (2602733) | about 7 months ago | (#46581345)

Kind of sad that NASA's suit R&D rollout to the public seems to be focused on case modding the exterior.

That said, they clearly need a "retro" cover. First look at the NASA design reminded me of a book I read as a kid, "Tom Swift and his Jetmarine," where he built escape suits for his submarine in the shape of giant eggs, like Humpty-Dumpty.

Re:NASA's attempt at Case Modding (3, Informative)

ttucker (2884057) | about 7 months ago | (#46581627)

The FAQ says that this is only the design for the cover that will be used during on earth prototyping, and that the actual flight version of the suit will not be styled at all.

Re:NASA's attempt at Case Modding (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 7 months ago | (#46583095)

How about we skip the taxpayer-funded fashion show and not style any of them at all?

I don't recall a fashion contest before the Gemini and Apollo flights...

Re:NASA's attempt at Case Modding (1)

miller701 (525024) | about 7 months ago | (#46583429)

No, but they were made by Maidenform, a women's undergarment manufacturer.

Re:Options? (2)

nospam007 (722110) | about 7 months ago | (#46582235)

It will be the one that the Colbert Nation votes for.

Because (4, Insightful)

homey of my owney (975234) | about 7 months ago | (#46581047)

Good engineering is done by committee

Just a skin really... (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 7 months ago | (#46581097)

From what I can tell the basic design and materials seem to be the same between them (perhaps a slight difference in materials of Biomimicry) and what you are voting on is really more of a skinning of how the suit looks and where the glowing areas are placed...

It does seem like there is some design aspect at work though in deciding how to use the light emitting portions, I really liked the thought of the Technology suit having different designs for different suit owners, and that has practical purpose also.

Re:Just a skin really... (1)

hey! (33014) | about 7 months ago | (#46581563)

Good design isn't done by committees, either.

Re:Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581557)

It isn't engineering, it's marketing. The only department they have left.

Re:Because (1)

killkillkill (884238) | about 7 months ago | (#46583533)

The engineering is done. We're just voting on the colors.

Wow, timing. (4, Interesting)

SpectreBlofeld (886224) | about 7 months ago | (#46581069)

I was working on a personal design project with very similar features, for undersea divers - an electroluminescent (EL) panel or wire system for divers to use to signal each other underwater, even at distances where hand signaling would be an issue. Different colors for different situations, and the ability to 'flash' a sort of morse code communique to one another.

A diver's illumination would also light up or flash when air reserves reach low levels or the diver is otherwise in distress, so others could recognize the issue and come to aid.

Feel free to steal the idea and run away with it, if anyone reading this is in the industry. Like I said, it was just a personal design project that I was planning on giving away to improve the general state of things.

Please patent it ! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46582071)

Please patent it or else some assholes would patent your idea and then charge everyone lots of arms and legs to use their products.

If you intent to give it away, owning that patent ensure that no one else can patent that idea of yours.

Re:Please patent it ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46582171)

If you intent to give it away, owning that patent ensure that no one else can patent that idea of yours.

Nope. You can patent it to hell, it still won't prevent anyone from writing a similar patent with a trivial change to use for trolling and the patent office will accept it.
For contesting the troll in court you only need to show prior art and that has he already done.

Re:Wow, timing. (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 7 months ago | (#46583257)

How about touch screen attached to the chest. Rotated out for user access and left down to signal others and report user state as well as making control adjustments. Seeing us the upper part of the suit is rigid, attachment of the hinged screen should not be problem even for quite a large screen, adjustable stylus points can be added index and middle fingers. Vacumn wont be a problem but temperature likely will be.

EL and SCUBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46583963)

EL isn't nearly bright enough in any situation but clear water at night. I've been unable to see bright dive lights during the daytime and in really mucky water.

Re:Wow, timing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46583969)

Light is attenuated rapidly in water. Modern LED lights can still be effective modes of communication for short distances, though. In terms of a dedicated device, there is are a few people looking at using dive computers for this kind of thing. A few dive computers can already be tuned to eavesdrop on multiple hoseless gas monitoring systems. In this way, a buddy pair can always know how much breathing gas they both have (Such as http://www.uemis.com/ or http://www.suunto.com/helo2/). There have been a few forays into the idea of using the same communication channel to communicate other messages, mostly in the dive instructor community.

Re:Wow, timing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46584735)

Inspired by giant squid?

Technology FTW (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581077)

Please PLEASE make a red version as well as a blue one. We need to be able to tell N7 and and Cerberus apart at a distance.

I know you read Slashdot, NASA. Make this happen.

4th choice... (4, Insightful)

x0ra (1249540) | about 7 months ago | (#46581087)

None of the above.

Re:4th choice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46582697)

Waiting for the Yoga Pants space suit before I vote. I want the wearer to feel like they're wearing nothing at all.

Re:4th choice... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 7 months ago | (#46585309)

"None of the above."

I agree. I did not care for any of the 2 designs. Further, I have to ask: what's the purpose of decorating them at all? Especially if they're all going to be the same?

Since suits are customized for the wearer anyway, I say: let the wearer decide how to decorate the damned thing. Either that, or just put a big goddamned number on each one.

Planet Side (2, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 7 months ago | (#46581099)

So how many Station Cash is each suit anyway?

Re:Planet Side (0)

sg_oneill (159032) | about 7 months ago | (#46581237)

We only accept Gold Pressed Latinum in this station buddy. BY order of the Grand Negus.

I vote for (3, Insightful)

BradMajors (995624) | about 7 months ago | (#46581103)

NASA's 2012 Z-1 Spacesuit design.

Re:I vote for (1)

gargleblast (683147) | about 7 months ago | (#46581583)

Seriously? Surely those new ones just need a new logo [craplogo.me]

Re:I vote for (2)

azadrozny (576352) | about 7 months ago | (#46583151)

I agree. What is wrong with the white and green? The proposed color schemes seem like they would blend into some Lunar or Martian environments. Wouldn't you want these suits to be highly visible, day or night?

Tron (1)

drall.kj (3527169) | about 7 months ago | (#46581129)

Are these rejected uniform from the last Tron movie? All they need now is the pointless lights in the helmet to illumnate your face like BSG (both the 70s and the 00s).

Re: Tron (2)

Spottywot (1910658) | about 7 months ago | (#46582259)

a) Baddie uniform. b) goodie uniform. c) Star Trek uniform. If this is the attempt to envage the public in space missions, I hate to say it but it's probably pitched about right. Think X factor in space. I shudder to think about it.

Don't worry, no functional parts included (5, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | about 7 months ago | (#46581139)

None of what's being voted on can be considered a functional part. All that we're voting on is the cover, basically some soft armor to protect the actual suit from damage. And then all that we're voting on is the coloration patterns.

Oh, and this is purely for the prototype - it will never even go into space. So all that the voting public is being trusted with is picking out the colors of a protective cover for a model that's only being used for testing, not actual spaceflight.

And since pretty much 0% of the voting public are experienced aerospace engineers, that's probably all we *should* be trusted with. I know the 150 hours I've put into Kerbal Space Program certainly does not qualify *me* for designing anything that actually goes into space and needs to work properly.

Re:Don't worry, no functional parts included (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581573)

I know the 150 hours I've put into Kerbal Space Program certainly does not qualify *me* for designing anything that actually goes into space and needs to work properly.

Don't be so hard on yourself because the rockets don't work well. That can be easily solved by launching 50 rockets instead of one.

Re:Don't worry, no functional parts included (1)

pslytely psycho (1699190) | about 7 months ago | (#46582819)

Moar Boosters!

Re:Don't worry, no functional parts included (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 7 months ago | (#46583255)

Wait... You mean all the time I spent playing Simple Rockets [google.com] on my Android smartphone doesn't qualify me to build rockets?

Re:Don't worry, no functional parts included (1)

bughunter (10093) | about 7 months ago | (#46585111)

The "cover" or "skin" of the suit is also functional. As a systems engineer (for space-based sensors and cameras) I can think of a few requirements that need to be addressed right off the bat:

- Visible Contrast, so that the wearer can be detected/identified by humans, from a distance
- EM Reflectivity, so that the wearer can be detected/identified by active scan sensors (lidar/radar/whatever)
- Customization options, so that wearers can be distinguished from one another
- Glare reduction, so that the wearer's visibility isn't compromised under direct sunlight
- Thermal conductivity and albedo requirements, matched to the performance of the suit's internal thermal regulation
- Micrometeorite protection (probably addressed by deeper layers, but also a factor here)

And that's just from 2 minutes of brainstorming...

Of course, since this suit will never actually be used in space, the systems engineering process above can be abandoned in favor of public relations, which NASA spends a small but significant chunk of its budget on...

Re:Don't worry, no functional parts included (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 7 months ago | (#46585381)

However, all of those have already been determined. All of the presented options are functionally equivalent in all of those regards (note how each of them have illumination, for instance). While you are definitely correct that the cover can be considered a functional part, there are no functional decisions between the options we have been provided.

Seems a bit of a setup. (2)

Artifex (18308) | about 7 months ago | (#46581201)

They only have one option that mentions immediately practical applications in its supporting information. That's the Technology skin, with the applications being easier crew identification, etc. Precisely the only reason why you would think they would invest the resources to play with pretty lights on the surface of a prototype, right now. The others are designs that might be nice to have someday, if there are large populations in these environments that might want to express individuality and creativity.

Re:Seems a bit of a setup. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46583251)

Easier crew identification? Just put all the non essential personnel in a red shirt.

Changing my mind (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 7 months ago | (#46581207)

I really thought NASA was the future, I've fought tooth and nail with naysayers over about NASA, It was incredibly depressing the space shuttle started and ended in my lifetime and we rely on the Russians to launch new astronauts to the station.

But this? This is the first time I've started to question my fanboy support of NASA.

Seriously? These designs are worthy of a poll or even posting?

Re:Changing my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581393)

The changes that caused NASA to wind up in this position have been at least 20 years in the making, probably more. NASA now has a culture of almost fetishistic worship of past achievements, and too much emphasis on playing it safe. If you want innovation now you have to run as far away from NASA as you can. NASA's only hope for actually achieving something anymore is support of private enterprise, and I think that they themselves realize this.

Re:Changing my mind (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 7 months ago | (#46581515)

The other depressing thing about Nasa is how they've gone from launching people to the moon in the 1960's to telling people that driving their cars is going to kill the planet (Hansen was head of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies from 1981 to 2013). No wonder they're not keen on launching actual rockets - those things must emit loads of CO2. I'm surprised Hansen would go on exhaling CO2.

It's like something out of a dystopian science fiction novel about how a once proud, space faring society descends into ignorance and obscurantism.

Re:Changing my mind (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 7 months ago | (#46583789)

We'd be better off if it was CO2.

Instead, the Space Shuttle Main Engines (3) burn hydrogen and liquid oxygen, emitting water vapor as it's exhaust. That's not bad.

The Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters burn ammonium perchlorate, aluminum, and iron oxide (thermite) suspended in epoxy. This results in hydrogen chloride (among other things).

Hydrogen Chloride + water = Hydrochloric Acid.

All the "launch guests" were given a general safety statement in their packets of information, which includes a statement about acid rain:

ACID RAIN STATEMENT
- At ignition, the Space Shuttle's twin solid rocket boosters produce an exhaust cloud containing drops of hydrochloric acid. This cloud drifts with the wind after the launch, slowly dissipating as it travels. These droplets are not strong enough to cause anything other than a minor irritation and are easily rinsed off with water.
- Launch viewing sites are far enough away from the launch site that there is ample time for visitors to return to the bus. It is imperative that you listen for all announcements and strictly follow all instructions provided by NASA.

Re:Changing my mind (1)

Scorch_Mechanic (1879132) | about 7 months ago | (#46585233)

Why aren't they worth a poll? Awareness and support of NASA in the U.S. is low. Anything that NASA can do to raise awareness about themselves to the public is a Good Thing. You remember Mohawk Guy? His stupid hairdo brought a brief surge of positive public relations to NASA by way of meme. If NASA can get this (yes, silly) poll into the internet and circulating for a few weeks, they'll have gained positive PR.

Besides, this actually makes the public feel like they're involved with NASA. Directly. Even if they're not affecting anything truly material, it's a definite step up from being several dozen steps removed from influencing NASA. If NASA can increase support for themselves in the public, maybe that public will be a little more inclined to vote for candidates who support space missions.

It's all a game of perceptions. I hope NASA succeeds.

Null for Taxpayers? (1)

drfred79 (2936643) | about 7 months ago | (#46581257)

I vote no.

What does Putin Have to Say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581303)

After all, if not for Russua how you gonna get up there anymore?

Forget public opinion ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 7 months ago | (#46581329)

... we need experts to judge these designs.

What does Mr. Blackwell have to say?

Option B is the both functional and representative (4, Interesting)

WiPEOUT (20036) | about 7 months ago | (#46581331)

Someone mentioned above that the vote has no functional meaning. I disagree.

The glowing patterns, properly designed, can help astronauts see the relative orientation of other astronauts, particularly in low light situations. The more distinctive yet simple the pattern in terms of placement relative to the body of the wearer, the better. The first option (A) obscures this by not clearly aligning all the luminescent lines with the shape of the human body. For me, this makes "biomimicry" functionally less suitable. The third option (C) has lines on all limbs without much to distinguish between them, meaning that when observing from other orientations, there could be confusion for the observer. Granted, the illumination on the backpack mitigates this at some angles, but the second option (B) has distinctive front and back and clearly shows an observer the orientation of the wearer. Option B looks arguably most functional.

As an added bonus, the luminescent pattern in option B can also serve to symbolise the origin of the astronauts, in the highly unlikely even they come in contact with another intelligence :) The second option's (B) "technology" pattern on the front approximates the bipedal shape of a human, while the others do not.

Re:Option B is the both functional and representat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581365)

The second option's (B) "technology" pattern on the front approximates the bipedal shape of a human, while the others do not.

Well, so does the shape of the space suit...

Re:Option B is the both functional and representat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46582999)

I hadn't thought of this at all, but you are totally right!

I'd hate if during some daring space rescue operation, I had to jump across the gulf of space to intersect with another stranded astronaut, only to realize too late that I misjudged their orientation, and we ended up face-first in each others crotches, like some sort of cosmic 69. You never see that in movies because movies are never realistic and some amount of suspension of disbelief is always necessary, but for sure it would happen in real life unless all astronauts had an luminescent "up" arrow painted on their suit.

PS: I'm not trying to poke fun at your observation; I really do think it was insightful and would have modded you up if I had points
PPS: Like somebody else above said, those suits are really fugly, though.

Re:Option B is the both functional and representat (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 7 months ago | (#46583069)

In case we ever come in contact with another intelligence, I prefer the luminescent pattern to be in the shape of an astronaut smiling while killing an alien.

I agree the pattern can be functional, I disagree any of the designs (including B) come even close to being functional.

Re:Option B is the both functional and representat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46583539)

"These requirements drive selection of specific high-performance materials and design details that would preclude us from using many of the features you see in these options for the Z-2 suit."

I vote for ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581397)

... the Dragon Army. We already have the uniforms.

Back to the drawing board (2)

voodoo cheesecake (1071228) | about 7 months ago | (#46581419)

Since it will probably be quit a while before the next suit redesign, I have one suggestion.

If you just have to have wires that light up, then having them individually change colors to reflect biological conditions would be a wiser use than just for the glow in the dark function. This way your suit could visually convey critical medical information to the rest of the crew. For instance you could monitor heart rate, respiration and pucker factor on a space walk or during the realization that you are wearing a shower curtain when tiny high velocity particles pierce your suit.

Tubgi8l (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581429)

support GNAA, signi7icantly has been my only that they sid*eline

Yuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581437)

None of the designs are very aesthetic. Nor is the bio-luminescence very functional other than showing others where you are. I'd have to say the old orange suits look much better. Whatever happened to the designs that they had going that more resembled normal clothing. I mean if you're going to make a space suit that makes someone bigger, add more mech type stuff to it. If you're gonna be bulky...make use of it.

Pimp my Spacesuit... (3, Interesting)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 7 months ago | (#46581461)

You know that the whole Pimp-my-X meme has jumped the shark when NASA scientists think that they need Tron style space suits and that they actually think they look modern and cool...

Re:Pimp my Spacesuit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46582283)

The Krogan find them very modern and cool.

Missing option (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 7 months ago | (#46581467)

I run with Cowboy Neal naked on Mars.

Reminds me of someone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581593)

Gru from Despicable Me :)

Really? (1)

berchca (414155) | about 7 months ago | (#46581703)

Multiple choice questions always miss the most important option: none of the above

None of us is as dumb as all of us (1)

AntiBasic (83586) | about 7 months ago | (#46581717)

None of us is as dumb as all of us

The batteries last too long! (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 7 months ago | (#46581739)

The batteries last too long!

Quick! Add more electroluminescent wire! Hurry Robin, the the Maker Faire!

Lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581797)

They all look like something i would shoot at without thinking if i was playing an fps ;)

society = violence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46581813)

It struck me as wry humor that the "trends of society" (c) mannikin carries a gun...

Paai

Re:society = violence? (1)

CayceeDee (1883844) | about 7 months ago | (#46582417)

It struck me as wry humor that the "trends of society" (c) mannikin carries a gun...

Please, please stay away from me in a firefight. You can't tell the difference between a power driver and a gun.

Re:society = violence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46582935)

I guess the power driver was the artists intention. But there are no structures with screws in sight and the stance of the figure is that of one wielding a gun.

Paai

Which polish do you want on your turd? (2)

Mr Z (6791) | about 7 months ago | (#46581951)

I see three options: Blue waterbear with spaghetti, Grey Tron waterbear, and Frumpy waterbear

They're all stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46582309)

Ignore the lighting. It's all stupid, and it's being done to make them look sexy, at a ludicrious but very profitiable price tag.

Pay attention to the joints, which strongly affect movement, the gloves, the materials. The "most advanced use of impact resistant composites" in the first suit means, to me, "no one has tested this in vacuum *and* head *and* radiation and it will probably shred due to unexpected outgassing of the plastics, ignite with the O2 that starts leaking from the shredded suit, and seal the new hole with frozen blood from our now anemic astronaut. But that saves fuel for the return flight, especially if they aim the leaks in the correct direction to slow their orbit!". The cruft sticking out of the back plate is also begging for trouble.

The pleated armor is interesting, but unlikely to work well without a lot of hard use to get the kinks out. And finely detailed 3d fitting is unlikely to remain fitted for long missions: astronauts tend to lose weight in orbit, food is expensive, and they're working their *asses* off. So extremely careful fittings are pointless, their body shapes change noticeably while they're up on long missions.

I'd want to see the linings. Do they crease in ways likely to chafe skin? Do they provide the needed flexibility for an astronaut to reach into a mechanism on EVA and still be able to make a tool work correctly, especially the elbow and hand flexibility? How is the range of motion? Does the lining retain body fluids from EVA and need rinsing or airing out after a lengthy EVA, or does it accumulate the rich funk of the locker room in hard to clean crevices and have to be sanitized by opening it and leaving it outside?

Frankly, I really miss the idea of the "skin suit", basically a wet suit for outer space with a rigid helmet connected to a snug, low or no pressure body suit. Helmet air leaks into the suit, the suit leaks air a *bit* for cooling and CO2 exhaust, but it relies on the astronaut's own skin inside the suit to keep things together at low pressure. Much, *much* more flexible than the semi-armored systems we currently use, and perfectly reasonable for earth orbit missions.

Re:They're all stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46583279)

The idea of a 'skin suit' as you describe it is a non-starter in space. The astronauts need their atmosphere (inside the suit) at a significant fraction of earth-standard (specifically the partial pressure of the oxygen), or the oxygen-exchange mechanisms of the human body don't actually *work*.

A non-rigid 'skin suit' turns into a balloon under that pressure, and it becomes incredibly difficult to impossible for the astronaut inside to bend and maneuver.

Re:They're all stupid (0)

jo_ham (604554) | about 7 months ago | (#46583633)

I see you didn't read the FAQ in the linked article.

Oh, and you forgot to log in, kid.

Classic slashdot; proclaim your superior 'common sense' knowledge over a professional science and engineering team while posting anonymously.

I'm sure they'll pay serious, and I do mean *serious*, attention to your expert comments.

Initial Reaction-Why should I care? (1)

BoFo (518917) | about 7 months ago | (#46582429)

I'll vote for the crotchless number in muted mauve. I like the suit, but could not care less about its decorative appearance. How about an orbital craft that takes off from and lands on a runway? I have my priorities, after all.

Is it going to be used in space? (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | about 7 months ago | (#46582497)

Is the design that is selected going to fly to space?

No

*sigh*

There is a functional difference (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 7 months ago | (#46582707)

These suits all have lighting apparently, and that lighting matters. Of the three options, the one that gives the most visibility to the wearer is the third, because the lighting extends down the legs.

Other than that, I don't think it matters which of these is built.

Think brassieres! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46582781)

FYI I enjoyed this documentary about how the Apollo space suits were created.

Moon Machines (2008): The Space Suit - YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY_4vSmPMy0

Gundam? (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 7 months ago | (#46582791)

I vote for a Gundam mobile suit version :-D

Re:Gundam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46584453)

Definitely something to mount mini-boosters and laser cannons. Sweet.

major flaw in design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46583283)

There are two major flaws with this. More pink and it needs some COWBELLS attached to the helmet!

*facepalm* Has it come to this? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#46583529)

Has it really come to this? NASA doesn't have cool technology and science to show us? It's down to fashion?

Could we just focus on the core mission of putting humans in space without needing to rent capacity from the Russians?

Or have we sunk so low that the only way to engage people in space flight is by letting the masses choose the outfits?

Re:*facepalm* Has it come to this? (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about 7 months ago | (#46583679)

Has it really come to this? NASA doesn't have cool technology and science to show us? It's down to fashion?

Could we just focus on the core mission of putting humans in space without needing to rent capacity from the Russians?

Or have we sunk so low that the only way to engage people in space flight is by letting the masses choose the outfits?

Because the team that works on the non-flight-capable prototype suit cover design is the same one that works on the rockets, right?

The main reason we're not putting humans in space is that funding for that is so slim. The US military's annual air conditioning costs in Afghanistan exceed NASA's entire budget. Without large public support for space exploration it simply won't be funded. This sort of outreach is part of the way of doing that. Get the public interested and the funding may follow at some point in the future.

All of the cool "technology and science" is under the cover design - this is the second version of the new EVA suit. Of course, showing this to Joe Normal isn't going to engage him as much as allowing him to vote on three different "cool space" designs for the outside of the suit. All the "technology and science" is there as it was before, with various ways to access them.

Just because they are also engaging in public outreach like this doesn't mean they're not also working on the "hard" stuff.

Re:*facepalm* Has it come to this? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#46583917)

Just because they are also engaging in public outreach like this doesn't mean they're not also working on the "hard" stuff.

Fine then. The Biomimicry one looks cool, with the Buzz Lightyear one being my second choice.

Re:*facepalm* Has it come to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46585287)

Have a look at the public-facing website. The whole thing has gone from dull-but-practical to Flash-driven wannabe kid-site.

These days, if you want to find something specific, like a recent image from a mission, do not ever go through the mission page. Always start with your favourite space.sci.blog and find the direct link on their post about the image.

Do we want to aspire to Dr. Who? (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 7 months ago | (#46583681)

They all look like Sontarans. [wikia.com] So the next generation of space explorers need no necks?

Poor Design IMHO (2)

PortHaven (242123) | about 7 months ago | (#46583775)

To me, this suit seems extremely bulky, with poor visibility. The accent lighting, as presented seems rather useless and a waste of precious energy reserves. And I know it doesn't, but it sure looks like it is forcing the astronaught's head to be contorted forward.

Is it sad that I could create a far better suit design in one day? (Engineering aside)

So if I was to design a suit, I would first look at the human body, visibility and safety.

- structure the suit for a relaxed body position, especially for space walks and low gravity (think more like the Craftmatic Contour bed)

- increase the dome size, come on we should be able to give our astronaughts good periphereal vision (why not a larger and closer to whole hemisphere dome)

- add display screens in front of the astronaught's portal, these would be hooked up to cameras that give a full 360 degree coverage and a location map of all parties (other astronaughts, shuttles, station, satellites, etc)

- illumination, sure, have a light source, thats a given. But if we're going to do LED wires and such they should involve the following. 1) Display a color for identification purposes (perhaps around helmet) 2) display state and well being of the astronaught. (in this case a pattern that is color coded, and can display from green to red the current oxygen reserves, energy reserves, pressure levels, and basic 'naught vitals)

- functionality...hands are great, but there are times you need a third hand. The suit seems to have nothing for assisting tasks. I'd add a Kangaroo pouch on the belly. This would allow the astronaught to essentially have a pouch that can be expanded to contain things. I'd equip each forearm with a grasping clasp. Say I need a wrench, I can just set it on my forearm and it will clamp down and hold it. I see very little design in this suit to assist with functionality.

- feet, these should be adaptable. If I am in space free floating, something with magnetic or even suck type system makes more sense. Versus a suit to explore say an asteroid or Mars, in which a different foot pattern would be beneficial. So I'd make a sort of replaceable sole - like horseshoes.

- tethering? I see nothing to facilitate tethering amongst astronaughts

- utility/mission hardpoints, I'd want a suit that easily allowed dockable modules. Extended oxygen supplies, etc. Not sure the design pictured would be easily modified to support such.

- plasma cannons, clearly the suit should be equipped with plasma cannons or an extended range particle projection cannon.

My vote.. (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 7 months ago | (#46584391)

.. is a spacesuit that doesn't drown the occupant in his/her condensation. Because drowning is not very stylish, or so I'm told.

Rather retro (1)

Tim OBrien (3507173) | about 7 months ago | (#46584615)

I'd rather they went retro and just use the suits from "2001" back in '68.

Hu? (1)

stackOVFL (1791898) | about 7 months ago | (#46585085)

Uuumm why? Our space program seems to lack any usable goals. Why don't we put this cash into a new shuttle design or something else that we can use to get into space again instead? Having to hitch a ride from the Russian's should be motivation (and embarrassment) enough to put a hold on the new space threads. Or maybe better put, Hey NASA it's 2014 where's my freak'n space car I want off this rock!

As an American... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46585397)

I am disappointed at the lack of a Red, White and Blue option with an Eagle emblazoned across the chest and corporate logos plastered all over the arms and legs. At least add and STP motor oil patch and R-Type sticker somewhere.

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