American astronauts are still flying into space in spacesuits that have barely changed since the 1990s. But these bulky suits have been in need of modernization for a very long time – especially since NASA intends to send humans back to the moon’s surface in the coming decade. A few years ago, the organization demonstrated already updated xEMU and OCSS spacecraft, but production problems arose so severe that astronauts’ return to the moon had to be postponed. Recently, the agency proposed the development of new spacesuits on the shoulders of private companies Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace. After that, very interesting details began to appear about the spacesuits of the future – for example, it became known that they could be similar to the costume of the cartoon character Buzz Lightyear.
Space suit in the style of “Buzz Lightyear”
According to Space.com, NASA representatives recently provided Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace with all the information gathered during the development of the Z-1 spacecraft prototype. It was introduced to the world in 2012 and immediately began to be compared to the costume of the cartoon Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear. In the picture below you can see that the real and fictional costumes are really very similar in both shape and color.
Хотите узнать, сколько стоит возвращение людей на Луну? Вот ответ.
Features of the experimental suit Z-1
The prototype of the Z-1 space suit was developed at a time when NASA had no idea where people would fly first – to the moon, Mars or to another planet. When creating the suit, the experts wanted to make the astronauts feel as free as possible inside it. The space suits of the 1990s were certainly not like that, because the astronauts were in them could not even bend down freely, let alone turn their bodies.
To provide more flexibility, the Z-1 prototype was equipped with many moving parts in the most important places such as knees, elbows, abdomen and so on. During the tests, it was proven that the new suit really allows you to bend over things, take them in your hands and make other movements that were previously inaccessible.
Another important feature of the prototype Z-1 spacesuit was that it was made of the best materials at the time. What can be seen in the photographs is just a strong outer shell that protects the astronauts from external threats. Under it there are several more layers: one protects against cosmic radiation, a mixture of polyurethane and nylon ensures the tightness of the suit and does not allow air to escape, and a polyester shell does not allow the suit to lose its shape. Specialists also reported a complex layer of composite material that protects against temperature changes and makes it extremely comfortable to stay in the suit.
Particularly noteworthy is the universal gate, which is located on the back of the suit. It was reported that astronauts could use it to connect to the spacecraft’s system and, for example, replenish the supply of vital oxygen. Or an autonomous life-sustaining system can be connected to this port so that astronauts can walk freely on the surface of the moon, Mars or other planets without being bound to a spacecraft.
Люди хотят полететь на Луну и Марс, а как насчет других планет? В будущем мы можем оказаться на Юпитере и Сатурне, вот подробности.
Disadvantages of Z-1 Experimental Spacesuit
In 2012, the suit underwent a series of tests in a vacuum chamber. Despite all its advantages, the spacesuit had serious drawbacks. The largest of them was considered to be poor density, which put the lives of astronauts in great danger. Due to this, the development of the prototype was completed, but the engineers decided to try to create an improved version of it.
Features of the new Z-2 suit
An improved suit appeared in 2014 and was named Z-2. It received many improvements, thanks to which astronauts could not only bend, but also rise from a supine position, move over uneven terrain and perform other complex actions.
What will be the costumes for flying to the moon
At present, these prototypes have remained in history, but the information gathered during their development can be very useful in creating a new generation of spacesuits. It is safe to assume that Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace will focus on the mobility of future suits, and the Z-1 and Z-2 prototypes will help them a lot in this. And their appearance is unlikely to be “cartoonish” – but you can not be 100% sure of anything.
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It is worth noting that spacesuits for the flight to the moon will be released in two forms. The first will be carried by humans during the flight inside the spacecraft, and the second – during the exit to outer space. And between them, there will obviously be a very big difference in both appearance and design. You can read more about what they will definitely be in this material.