NASA is in on the concept vehicle game (as long as space suits count as body vehicles) and they want your input on which they should bring to life. One of three Z Series finalists on offer will really be built, put through rigorous pressure and fit tests and used to inform the future of suit development. Though the designs are a bit whimsical, the program exists to spur creative designs and learn where advancement is feasible in the heavily constrained field.
The previous Z-1 competition was started as an exercise in innovative suit design, with an emphasis on increased mobility and Extra-Vehicular Activity. The winner was a flexible-bodied suit above whose colors riff on a certain beloved character. This year's finalists are less famous but no less fun. Let's meet the contestants!
"Biomimicry" sports naturally-inspired features like bioluminescent detailing and scaly textures. This is a clear winner for Spring/Summer menswear. The fitted shorts and textured, dovetailed top are SO IN this season, and the flexibly jointed arms maintain a contemporary silhouette while accentuating the traditional athleticism of icons like Popeye. Cosmonautical, amirite?
"Technology" is edgy, yet pragmatic. This tech-savvy body covering is distinctive by design, proposing personalized markings for each crew member. I'm a fan of the handy "This Way Up" glow in the dark tramp stamp. Super practical for those awkward EVA hook-ups.
"Trends in Society" is just like you and me. Pictured here with her hairdryer on a rousing rocky Martian hike, this design is inspired by flashy sportswear and, apparently, Tron. Gore pleats! Wearable tech! Mars 2.0!
The winner will be treated to a host of honors: it will be the first suit tested in full vacuum, the most advanced use of impact resistant composite structures on a suit, and the first to use the intimate and accurate 3D human laser scans and 3D-printed hardware for suit development and sizing. They'll be the talk of the town... as long as that town is on the Space Coast.
Cast your vote, and may the best suit win!