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NASA's Z-2 Suit is the newest prototype in its next-generation spacesuit platform, the Z-series. As a follow-up to the previous Z-1 suit, which was named one of Time Magazine's Best Inventions of 2012, the Z-2 takes the next step in fidelity approaching a final flight-capable design. Most exciting, the Z-2 marks several milestones for NASA:
First surface-specific planetary mobility suit to be tested in full vacuum
First use of 3D human laser scans and 3D-printed hardware for suit development and sizing
Most advanced use of impact resistant composite structures on a suit upper and lower torso system
First integration of the suit-port concept with a hard upper torso suit structure
Most conformal and re-sizeable hard upper torso suit built to date
NASA's 2012 Z-1 Spacesuit
In addition to these firsts we, the space suit engineers, have found ourselves with another exciting opportunity: the chance to make a suit with a look unlike any suit ever built before.
After the positive response to the Z-1 suit's visual design we received, we wanted to take the opportunity to provide this new suit with an equally memorable appearance. The cover layer of a prototype suit is important as it serves to protect the suit against abrasion and snags during the rigors of testing. With the Z-2, we're looking forward to employing cover layer design elements never used in a spacesuit before. The designs shown were produced in collaboration with ILC, the primary suit vendor and Philadelphia University. The designs were created with the intent to protect the suit and to highlight certain mobility features to aid suit testing. To take it a step further, we are leaving it up you, the public, to choose which of three candidates will be built.