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NASA Turns To The Internet To Choose The Future Of Spacesuit Design

You can vote and help NASA decide on the next generation of interplanetary outerwear.
March 26, 2014, 7:50pm

Fashion in the final frontier is getting an update, thanks to designers at NASA, and they want you to help them decide what's en vogue. A NASA team, led by space suit designer Amy Ross (that's her actual job title), has come up with three different designs for tomorrow's astronauts, and they're letting the Wi-Fi-enabled public choose which one they're going to make through a voting site.

The Z-1 suit from 2012, which makes the wearer literally look like Buzz Lightyear, was one of Time Magazine's favorite designs that year, and now NASA is pulling out all the stops to carry on that legacy of impeccable gear with three amazing Z-2 prototypes.

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All three models have very similar technical functionality, featuring collapsable pleats and exposed bearings for mobility, as well as innovative, abbrasion-resistant materials for the outer layers. However, the designs all are inspired by different areas of Earth's beauty.

The first option in the new suit design competition is called 'Biomimicry,' and takes its inspiration from "the bioluminescent qualities of aquatic creatures found at incredible depths, and the scaly skin of fish and reptiles found across the globe," according to its voting page. It features organic waves of electroluminescent wire that become vividly bright when it's dark out.

The second design is called 'Technology.' The site says that, "by using Luminex wire and light-emitting patches, this design puts a new spin on spacewalking standards such as ways to identify crew members." The bright blue patches in this rendering feature an open, humanoid figure spreading its arms wide as if embracing space itself.

The last choice, called 'Trends in Society,' is based on modern sportswear and the aesthetics designers have noticed in the emerging era of wearable tech.

As of the publishing of this article, the 'Technology' design is in the lead, with a whopping 65% of the vote. To make your voice heard, vote here.

In a Reddit AMA, the designers said that they have improved many elements of the Z-1 to make the Z-2 top of the line, including buffing up its structural integrity, making it more comfortable for the spaceman inside, and creating an intuitive interface between the wearer and the robotic elements of the suit. They also answer the age-old question: how does an astronaut go to the bathroom in a space suit?

Props to NASA for not only designing several slick options for the astronaut of tomorrow, but also encouraging your average star-gazers to get involved and feel like part of the space team. If only we could test out these suits, ourselves. We drank a lot of coffee today and want to test out if they are as, well, relieving as they are sharp.

See the three models below: