NASA is developing a revolutionary space suit, the Z-2
– News of September 16, 2018 –
Space suits are fascinating objects. They must maintain a pressure, a temperature and oxygen levels in space while being sufficiently compact and flexible to allow precise movements. They are real mini spaceships. Space suits are therefore technologic jewels which unit price can reach nearly 15 million dollars. It is necessary to make a difference between the space suits intended to be worn in a spaceship and the space suits planned for the extravehicular exits, which are much more imposing.
The interior of a spaceship is normally already pressurized and at a good temperature. The space suits worn inside are therefore only useful in the event of an incident. That’s why they are much thinner and lighter, like SpaceX’s space suit. Space suits for spacewalks require lengthy and costly development that can cost hundreds of millions of dollars. But it still brings more comfort to astronauts.
For example, NASA is developing the Z-2 space suit, which will be particularly well suited to planetary exploration. It is indeed possible to enter and exit from the back of the space suit. The maneuver is much simpler for astronauts already exhausted by their mission. This rear door can also serve as an airlock directly attached to a habitat module, which greatly reduces the risk of contamination by dust. We know how important this issue is on the Moon or on Mars.
The Z-2 space suit is a well-articulated combination. It should allow astronauts to move easier. It is for example provided to be able to kneel. Finally, the pressure inside this space suit is the same as inside a space station or a space dwelling. The current space suits require spending several hours in a controlled environment before wearing them. It is indeed under-pressurized.
Image by NASA / James McDivitt (Great Images in NASA Description) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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