December 22, 2012

Buzz Lightyear Helps Inspire New NASA Spacesuit

NASA has taken a little inspiration from Pixar and is designing a spacesuit that resembles everyone’s favorite fictional astronaut, Buzz Lightyear.

The white and green Z-1 prototype space suit looks similar to that worn by Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear, who was first made alive via the voice of Tim Allen.

NASA first revealed the prototype suit through images uploaded to the photo-sharing site Flickr.

The suit features a large hemispherical transparent dome covering the wearer’s head, another inspiration based on the fictional Toy Story character.

The Z-1 Prototype Spacesuit will have an entry point at the rear to make it easier to put on compared to previous suits. Astronauts will be able to climb into it fairly quickly, and not take an hour like the suits currently do.

A giant backpack located at the rear doubles as a hatch that can latch onto another space ship or rover-like vehicle. The suit also has better bearings on the legs, ankles, hips and waist to help astronauts move more naturally.

The new technology will also create more efficient cooling and will help to get rid of carbon dioxide more easily. Right now, certain components have to be baked between missions in order to get rid of it.

The suit also has improved radiation protection, which allows astronauts to remain in space or on the surface of other worlds for longer periods of time.

“The suit actually contains several hard mobility elements,” Spacesuit Engineer Kate Mitchell, said in a statement. “The term “soft” is intended to convey the idea that the primary structures of the suit are pliable fabrics when unpressurized.”

She said this suit was developed as a test bed to go and test various technologies and mobility joints so they can further define the next generation spacesuit.

Amy Ross, lead of the Space Suit Assembly Technology Development team said the data they are gathering will feed tools that will help build better suits in the future. She said they haven’t built a new flight system since the Extravehicular Mobility Unit, and the last major prototype was developed in 1992

NASA has two more prototype suits planned with construction on the Z-2 beginning soon, and a Z-3 version ready to go for astronauts on the International Space Station to test out by 2017.

Image Credit: NASA

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Email