Frequently Asked Questions
When will the Z-2 suit be finished?
We expect to have a fully built Z-2 suit by November 2014.
What will the Z-2 suit be used for?
Besides the typical fit checks and mobility evaluations, our team is currently planning a very comprehensive test campaign for the Z-2 suit. We will be conducting multiple vacuum chamber tests, including one series at full vacuum, mimicking the lack of atmosphere found in outer space. The suit will be tested at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL), the huge indoor pool NASA uses to train every astronaut in the technique of spacewalking. Further testing at a rocky Martian surface analog site at the Johnson Space Center along with other settings will help us evaluate mobility, comfort and performance of the suit. Ultimately, all of these tests will guide us in designing the next suit in the Z-series.
Is the design that is selected going to fly to space?
No, as the Z-series is still in the prototype or non-flight phase. The cover layer of a non-flight suit, which is used for ground-based testing, serves as abrasion/snag protection, a cover for technical details, and to a lesser extent, aesthetics. For a flight suit which is actually used for a spacewalk, the cover layer performs many other important functions such as micrometeorite, thermal and radiation protection. These requirements drive selection of specific high-performance materials and design details that would preclude us from using many of the features you see in these options for the Z-2 suit.
How is the Z-2 suit different from the Z-1 suit?
There are many key advances to be found in the Z-2 suit. The most significant is that the Z-1 had a soft upper torso while the Z-2 has a hard composite upper torso. This composite hard upper torso provides the much-needed long-term durability that a planetary EVA suit will require. The shoulder and hip designs are significantly different based on extensive evaluations we have performed over the last two years with the Z-1 to look at different ways of optimizing mobility of these complex joints. Lastly, the boots are much closer in nature to those that would be found on a flight ready model, and the materials used on the Z-2 are compatible with a full vacuum environment.
Will you update this page with photos when the Z-2 suit is completed?
Please visit http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/technology/advanced_space_suits/index.html to get all the latest updates and photos on the Z-2 and other advanced spacesuit news.