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NASA Science

New NASA Spacesuit Looks Like Buzz Lightyear's 81

SternisheFan sends this excerpt from Space.com: It might make the astronaut wearing it look like a real-life Buzz Lightyear, but a new prototype spacesuit that NASA just finished testing represents the first major overhaul in spacesuit technology since 1998. Flexible, white, and lime green accented, the suit — known as the Z-1 — is designed not only to help astronauts comfortably maneuver during spacewalks in microgravity, but also to deftly move about when walking on the surface of a planet or other smaller heavenly body, like an asteroid. [Engineer Amy Ross] said, 'the shuttle EMU splits at the waist and you put pants on and you put the top on separately and they connect in the middle. Whereas with this suit, the subject crawls in through the back, and then we just shut the door.' Creating a back-entry suit solves a few of the problems spacewalkers often face during trips to the International Space Station. Using airlocks to depressurize is a time consuming, exhausting process. By using a back-entry design, the astronauts won't need to go through an airlock at all. The suit hooks up to the outside of the spacecraft using the "space port" opening, and the spacewalker simply climbs in and detaches."
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New NASA Spacesuit Looks Like Buzz Lightyear's

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  • Seriously? Not news (Score:4, Informative)

    by dywolf (2673597) on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:33AM (#42359263)

    Not new news anyway. This is like 6 months old.

  • Reminds me of the Wildfire bio suits from the 1971 version of The Andromeda Strain.
  • mud room (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phrostie (121428) on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:36AM (#42359297)

    "The suit hooks up to the outside of the spacecraft using the "space port" open"

    what always worried me about this is leaving the suits out exposed and then needing to trust them.
    I hope they atleast use some form of a mud room. unpressurized, but not constantly exposed to radiation and micro metorites.

    just my .2061 USD

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      If the suits are hooked up to the spacecraft as specified, it would be rather easy to test the integrity of the suits by inflating them to a specific pressure and waiting to see if the pressure drops. In fact, one could leave them inflated and if the pressure drops the access door won't open.

    • or they would be in the airlock itself and not actually exposed to space all the time -

      • The point of having a dockable suit is that you can avoid the airlock. Airlocks do lose breathing air with every cycle.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          The point of having a dockable suit is that you can avoid the airlock. Airlocks do lose breathing air with every cycle.

          Whatever, have a door but don't move the air around and for gods sake, just don't call it an airlock!
          Just close the outer door and let the space between the suit and the door remain unpressurized. See, no longer exposed to radiation and micro meteorites.

        • by bondsbw (888959)

          Perhaps they can be left in an unpressurized airlock (which current spacecraft will still have, and perhaps future spacecraft as a backup system).

          This of course assumes the inner door of the airlock is compatible with this suit's door.

        • by asm2750 (1124425)
          Wouldn't you just use a vacuum pump to pump out most of the air in the airlock back into the ship before exposing it to the atmosphere/vacuum of another planet?

          The real idea for this suit is so astronauts are not tracking in harmful dust (lunar dust is harmful to the lungs and equipment) and maybe the time to compress/decompress in an airlock.
          • by compro01 (777531)

            Wouldn't you just use a vacuum pump to pump out most of the air in the airlock back into the ship before exposing it to the atmosphere/vacuum of another planet?

            Most, yes, but not all. You still lose a little air every cycle, which needs to be replaced.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The last article on this kind of space suit said that was the plan.

    • My concern is how difficult is it to accurately re-dock with the mounting/access ring when the stupid thing is behind you?
    • The mud room will be mass that you just can't afford to boost. Besides, it's not like the suit will be out there forever. We're talking a short duration mission like an asteroid rendezvous or moon landings. What, a couple of days?

  • by who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:38AM (#42359325)
    .....and [Censored by Disney due to copyright infringement]
  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:39AM (#42359353)

    1. Missing the backpack, which will add a lot of mass and volume and alter balance.

    2. It isn't inflated. Spacesuits have a significent pressure inside, which makes moving in them something like trying to shape a balloon animal, or Stay Puft climbing a skyscraper. Even at low-pressure, enriched-oxygen any non-rigid suit is going to inflate.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The backpack as stated in the article is still in development and not yet merged with this project. Not that I expect you to read the article.

      "Although the Z-1 and the PLSS 2.0 aren't ready to be joined into one prototype yet, eventually they could combine to create an even more efficient space-traversing suit."

      As for inflation, the 2nd picture is inflated. Can't you even scroll?

  • Great... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cid Highwind (9258) on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:45AM (#42359405) Homepage

    Now if only they had a man-rated spacecraft to put these "space ports" in. Somehow I don't think this is going to be retro-fittable to Soyuz.

    • Re:Great... (Score:4, Informative)

      by afidel (530433) on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:09AM (#42359627)

      Dragon, it has not yet received NASA blessing for manned flight but that's mostly checkboxes. In fact due to the nature of the Falcon 9's Merlin engine it's probably safer than anything NASA has previously man rated. Remember that the Shuttle with a 1% mission failure profile was man rated.

    • These aren't intended for launch/reentry, hence they won't be used in manned capsules. They'll still use the standard recovery suits for that. [This applies to the comments about Dragon, above. It's likely that SpaceX would use a fairly conventional International Orange ACES-style recovery suit [wikipedia.org]. As will all the other Commercial Crew developers.]

      These new suits are intended for long duration space vessels, such as the SEV or potentially the ISS if you launch a suitable adapter module for the external "dockin

  • ...in 5 4 3 2 1 ....
  • Wasn't there a movie in which space suits were exactly like this? I can't remember which.

    • Better hope not. Cue MPAA lawsuit against NASA ... hilarity ensues.
    • Perhaps you saw it in a documentary. That's the way the Orlan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orlan_space_suit) russian space suits work (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:OrlanDonning.jpg)

  • Pun alert:

    "Using airlocks to depressurize is a time consuming, exhausting process."
  • I see the Metro interface designers are pursuing other design ventures.
  • by egcagrac0 (1410377) on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:25AM (#42359827)
    Any word on the purpose of the lime green accents?
  • The Z-1 spacesuit will potentially be used to explore different planets.

    The last suit redesign was just in '98. I don't know of any upcoming plans for planet exploration. By that time there will be many more iterations of design/improvements/new materials. This is not even potentially first mission until '15 at the earliest.

    /not the Christmas present I wanted NASA and what about this big announcement you were to make a couple weeks ago?

  • PPpppst! Are you Buzz Lightyear? I LOVE your movies! Mmmpphmpphmpphmpmhmhmh!!!
  • First the USAF copies Buzz Lightyear's badge for their new Space Badge and now NASA steals their spacesuit. http://www.snopes.com/disney/wdco/airforce.asp [snopes.com]
  • Hollywood (Score:4, Funny)

    by Richy_T (111409) on Friday December 21, 2012 @11:36AM (#42360599) Homepage

    If they're going with Hollywood inspiration, the helmets need to have lights that shine directly into the face of the wearer. You know it makes sense.

  • Does it fall with style? Will Disney scribble its name on the underside of the feet in permanent ink? Does it have a laser, or just a little light that blinks?
  • by Richy_T (111409) on Friday December 21, 2012 @11:42AM (#42360685) Homepage

    When you pull the string, instead of saying "To Infinity and Beyond", it says "To the moon and that's enough for another 40 years or more"

  • http://theoatmeal.com/comics/angler [theoatmeal.com] Why did this article remind me of this, I have no idea...
  • and no place to go.
  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Friday December 21, 2012 @01:02PM (#42361687) Homepage Journal

    the upper torso area should be bigger than this, and the tube from shoulders down to the elbows should be of a larger diameter.

    That way, you will be able to pull your arms into the torso area and use your hand to access the inside of the suit.

    What's the advantage? You can scratch your face or your back. This is very important! Going for long periods without the ability to scratch an itch is very demoralizing psychologically. Plus by having access to your face, you can wipe away tears, blow your nose, and do many other things.

    Another plus is in the event of a puncture. With current spacesuits, you're pretty much toast. With the big suit, you can put a finger on the puncture from the inside. This will allow you to hold pressure almost indefinitely.

    • As long as you have room to kiss your ass goodbye in the event of a suit failure they can't complain. Is anyone worried about that big-honking fishbowl the astronaut's head is in and the possibility of something that rigid breaking? Picture the scene from Total Recall (the original w/ Arnold) where his face shield broke falling down the ledge on Mars.
  • ...as recommended by our consultants on this project Goatse Enterprises.

  • I for one welcome our back entry... aww never mind.

  • Where are the hardsuits? The seals are still too hard to make work reliably?

This is now. Later is later.