We’re a group of engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center that are working on the next generation of spacesuits. To give you a better idea, these are the suits that will someday be worn by astronauts exploring planetary surfaces like Mars or other far off exploration destinations.

Proof: https://twitter.com/NASA_Johnson/status/448879479205548033

Some of you might be familiar with our most recent prototype, the Z-1 (http://go.nasa.gov/1iUmRa4), which happened to look similar to a fairly famous icon in intergalactic space travel. Now we’re working on the Z-2, which will take all of the things we learned from the Z-1 and continue to improve. This is also going to be the first newly designed suit that will be worn by a human being in a vacuum environment in over 30 years! Since this is such a big step, we want the public to help out by picking what the new suit will look like. You can check out the designs and vote by going here: http://go.nasa.gov/1iUn3pM

But for now, ask us all the questions you always wanted to know about space suits, engineering space suits, which spacesuits are best equipped to fend off zerg, or anything else you can think of! We'll start answering at 1:30pm CT

Advanced Suit Dev Team:

Amy Ross, Advanced Suit Team Lead

Richard Rhodes, Z-2 Suit Design Lead

Ian Meginnis, Test Support Equipment Design Lead

Dana Valish, Z-2 Suit Testing Lead

Adam Korona, Z-2 Suit Integration and Interfaces Lead

Dave Cox, Suit Software Tools and Configuration Management Lead

Shane McFarland, Suit/Human Interface and Collaborations Lead

Lindsay Aitchison, High Performance EVA Glove Project Lead

Ami Yang, Suit Team Intern

Tuan Nguyen, Suit Team Intern

Sarah Gonzaga, Suit Team Intern

Jeff Watters, Suit Team Intern

EDIT: Thanks for all of the great questions! Sorry for the ones we couldn't get to, hope you're all now as excited about spacesuits as we are! We'll try to answer a few more when we can. Go vote on your favorite design for the Z-2!

Comments: 559 • Responses: 93  • Date: 

karmanaut131 karma

What is the most unlikely dangerous scenario that the suit is designed to withstand?

JSCNASA434 karma

Your buddy pushes you off of the porch of your Mars lander on the top of Olympus Mons. You roll down Olympus Mons, bounce across the surface and disappear over the lip of a crater. Your battered suit comes to rest in the freezing shadow at the bottom of the crater. An alien eats you. All because you ate the last Oreo. AJR

JSCNASA104 karma

This is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1EBAn6Lpu8

Need to leave the beans at home...

Make sure to have your volume up to hear the sound of the video.

-DVC :)

TheCheshireCody96 karma

Thanks for doing this. Do you think we will ever (in the foreseeable future) "escape" from the giant bulky bubble spacesuits that have been the norm since the Apollo missions? A slimmer, more form-fitting one, like the ones the Mercury and Gemini astronauts wore, would certainly be easier to operate in, but is not technologically feasible for working in exposed space. Are there any designs that are aimed towards a thinner aesthetic?

JSCNASA102 karma

Great question! This is a question we get a lot, and there are a couple answers.

First, the Mercury suits were not designed to be pressurized except in a contingency - they were "get me down" suits similar to the orange ACES suits we used for Shuttle. The Gemini suits were used for EVA, but were sorely lacking in mobility. In comparison, the Apollo suit built just a few years later, which still has somewhat limited EVA mobility, appears much "bulkier". As a general rule, the more mobile a pressurized suit, the bulkier it appears due to the use of more hard mobility elements such as bearings. The more hard components, the less change in volume of the suit through the range of motion, and the higher the mobility.

Also, an "alternative" to full pressure suits is mechanical counter pressure suits which have been theorized and worked on since the 1960s. Some of us think that this type of suit architecture has a place in the distant future once material technology enables it. For now, we do actively fund material development in this area. In the meantime, we are designing suits for the next 10-20 years, and those will likely be full pressure suits like you see with the EMU, Mark III, Z-1 and the upcoming Z-2! -SM

JSCNASA35 karma

Mechanical counterpressure (or MCP) suits are a concept that have been around for many decades. The concept carries with it many potential advantages to full pressure suits. However, there are many technical limitations that need to be overcome before we see an MCP suit performing a spacewalk on Mars. Advances in materials and construction techniques must be made and we view these as long-term issues. We are very glad to see progress being made on MCP and in addition, we ourselves are actively funding development of these materials. Many of us view MCP as having a place in the future of spacesuit design, although when advances in technology allow that future to occur is a big unknown. In the meantime, we are looking at developing flight capability to support missions in the next 5-15 years. - SM

ComradeNapolein91 karma

Will it be easier or more difficult for astronauts to perform a number two in these spacesuits? How about number one for that matter?

This is important.

JSCNASA125 karma

The Z-2 suit is designed to be a walking mobility, planetary suit. You can go number one or number two, but number two is not recommended. -RAR

ircanadian23 karma

What about puking?

JSCNASA76 karma

We're reminded almost every single time we get in the suit, not to puke in it. Not only would it be horrible to clean up, but also in microgravity, you can potentially inhale it and be killed by your own emesis. -SM

aiming-low67 karma

Can one of these suits withstand a micrometeorite hit, say, in a moon or Mars atmo scenario? Or is that pretty much instant death for the wearer?

JSCNASA138 karma

The risk of impact is higher on the Moon because there's no atmosphere to slow bits down or destroy them, and once they hit on the Moon, smaller secondary chunks can be ejected too. However, at the end of the day, the damage done depends on the size of the particle. The suits are designed to maintain pressure for at least 30min after getting a 0.25in diameter hole. We try to mitigate the risk by designing multiple layers in the suit that reduce the size and energy of particles that hit to prevent them from actually penetrating the bladder layer. We also use statistical models in EVA planning to pick times and locations for space walks that are lower risk for micrometeoroid impacts.

All that said, if a big rock moving at 17,500mph hits you, that's going to be a bad day. -LTA

cathedrameregulaemea26 karma

Are mission control and EVA engineers actually able to determine damage to the gloves from those visual inspections via the WVS? Are the astronauts able to notice microtears visually?

a) Are you developing/interested in exploring some sensing system - active or passive (thinking interferometric colour change, due to disruption in a diffraction grating like structure... a la iridescent butterfly wings) - which informs the astronaut about a tear? EDIT: I guess an astronaut will quickly be able to tell if there's a hole in the glove from the decompression though, and the subsequent painful hand swelling/freezing cold.

b) Or is the suit PLSS designed, and the materials chosen such that any tears too small to be discernible by eye are not worth bothering about... and that there will be enough time to ingress A/L after first noticing a 0.25 in diameter hole..?

JSCNASA43 karma

Glove checks occur about every hour during an EVA and allow the engineers on the ground to see gross signs of damage. The engineers pay attention to peeling of the silicon outer layers and are looking for colors other than grey or white on the glove, which are signs of damage that goes beyond the thermal micrometeoroid garment (TMG). Small tears and cuts may not be obvious to the crew on orbit, but the engineers on the ground tracking the oxygen usage in the suit can detect small leaks early and terminate the EVA for safety reasons. Any hole that's big enough to activate the secondary oxygen system will be obvious to both the crew and ground teams.

We are very interested in finding low-bulk self healing or damage sensing materials that would provide early indicators of problems or allow for problems to self-resolve. Keep posting suggestions if you have them! - LTA

Osama-bin-sexy67 karma

How accurate are spacesuits in modern science fiction movies? Are there any depictions that unknowingly got some tech you're developing right?

JSCNASA128 karma

Space suits from most futuristic space movies are form fitting and allow you got get in your suit, open the hatch, and go EVA. Not realistic for the forseeable future. Form fitting suits (MPC) are decades away and there is a certain amount of pre-breathe time required before going EVA to allow your body to be purged of N2 because the suits operate at lower than earth atmospheric pressures.


Edit: I will add that in almost all science fiction films, the dead give away, even if the suits are not form-fitting, is that they don't move like a pressurized suit moves. They move like normal clothes. A suit at 8.3psid is as hard as a basketball. When they move, it is very characteristic and as a spacesuit engineer, that is always the thing for me that sticks out. -SM

Osama-bin-sexy94 karma

Awesome! Thanks guys! My engineer roommates are gunna be super jelly when I tell them NASA acknowledged me on reddit! I'll be the most popular guy at school.

JSCNASA228 karma

Osama bin sexy isn't already the most popular guy at school?

Universu44 karma

Are you considering providing the helmet with computerized user interface?

JSCNASA86 karma

We've actually evaluated various HUD devices (ski goggle-like designs, on-the-helmet projections, etc). I think the end goal would be to have a system that would overlay waypoints, maps, suit status, etc. onto the helmet visor. Think Halo :) This technology is probably a long ways off for space suits, so we've excluded it from Z-2. IMM

infinitelyryan40 karma

That's awesome. Thanks for doing this.

What are your backgrounds? Engineers? Physicists? How did you get into this?

JSCNASA55 karma

We're all engineers (aerospace, mechanical, bio-astronautics, human factors, and electrical). We've all been interested in space since we were kids and dreamed of working at NASA. The majority of us started our NASA careers as cooperative education students too, which allowed us to try several different aspects of engineering at NASA before finding our calling in space suit design and testing.

michellengineer25 karma

Wow, I had no idea bioastronautics was an engineering specialty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioastronautics

I'm a ChemE, longtime fan of NASA (rejected from SHARP in high school - twice, participated in the Microgravity University program twice during college, and I'm also a proud astronaut candidate reject), but could never really figure out where a ChemE would work at NASA. Do you ever come across chemical engineers there?

JSCNASA27 karma

Most Chemical Engineers at JSC are working on batteries in the Power Division (EP). There are also Chemical Engineers working on environmental and cost analysis. So, there are certainly opportunities for Chemical Engineers here!

  • AY & TN

svenne38 karma

How do you think spacesuits will look by the end of this century?

JSCNASA102 karma

Like Ironman... -RAR

manofnyan36 karma

Do you plan on distributing any suits to SpaceX or other privatized companies?

JSCNASA56 karma

NASA’s commercial crew partners are solely contracted to develop a vehicle as a way to transport crew to the International Space Station.  As such, the suits they use will be “launch and entry” suits of the simplest kind.   Each company is responsible for their own suit, whether they build it in house, or subcontract it out. Launch and entry suits are designed for unpressurized comfort and mobility – they are only pressurized in an emergency and therefore, pressurized mobility is not a significant design driver. The Z-series of suits and other suits in our Advanced Suit Laboratory are specifically EVA suits – that is, optimized for pressurized mobility. Therefore, while there are always lessons learned in any suit design and some technical overlap, we view these suits of limited applicability to the Z-series. That being said, there are others within our branch (Spacesuit and Crew Survival Systems Branch) as well as within NASA that are working closely on commercial crew partners and spacesuits are an important component of this. And lastly, we just want to add that we are all super excited about the prospect of commercial access to space! -SM

kellysnook32 karma

Hi Amy! We're doing an AMA just next door http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/21fk7f/imogen_heap_round_two_now_i_am_part_of_mimu/ about our new data gloves! :) hope you're well - missing you guys at JSC. xxx Kelly

JSCNASA35 karma

Oh Wow! Cool! Have fun. I'll take a look.

thomasberends26 karma

So.... To everybody: Have you ever played Kerbal Space Program?

JSCNASA36 karma

Quick poll: No. Only a couple of us have heard of it. One of us tried it very briefly and dabbles with SimpleRocket. But otherwise, we mostly have other hobbies outside of work. I think that for many of us, rocketry and rocket science is totally foreign and mysterious just as it is to most people :) -SM

edgames22 karma

What would you say is the most innovative part of the new suit?

JSCNASA30 karma

Copy/paste from our Z-2 voting website (here):

-First surface-specific planetary mobility suit to be tested in full vacuum

-First use of 3D human laser scans and 3D-printed hardware for suit development and sizing

-Most advanced use of impact resistant composite structures on a suit upper and lower torso system

-First integration of the suit-port concept with a hard upper torso suit structure

-Most conformal and re-sizeable hard upper torso suit built to date


yoda1721 karma

How much do space suits leak (air)?

JSCNASA29 karma

Varies wildly based on the specific suit in question, but on the order of 100 sccm (standard cubic centimeters per minute) -SM

-homeostasis21 karma

Thanks for this AMA!

What are some of the biggest challenges you have to overcome to make a better suit besides the quality and weight of it.

JSCNASA26 karma

There are several “big” challenges to the development of a space suit system. These challenges include:

-The mobility of the Pressure Garment System (PGS) or the suit structure itself (i.e. arms, legs, upper torso, lower torso, and helmet) -Subject fit and comfort within the PGS -How/can the PGS manage the radiation and dust environments of our potential destinations? -The Primary Life Support System, or backpack, which handles O2 production for suit pressurization and breathing, CO2 scrubbing, cooling, communications, and control of the on-board systems

For us, the PGS engineers, the focus of our work is on the man-to-machine interface. We strive to design a machine (PGS) that mimics human motions as closely as possible with the least amount of effort possible. The areas that are of specific importance to us are the joints or flexible parts (i.e. fingers, hips, shoulders, elbows, and knees). Just image how tiring working for hours in a gas filled bag that fights against the flexing of your joints would be.

Along with mobility, we strive to make the PGS fit subjects as best as possible and comfortable to use as possible. This is because the better the suit fits the greater mobility a subject will have and the more comfortable the suit is the longer a subject can working in the pressurized environment. The issue with these topics is that it is hard to quantify fit and comfort for humans so it is hard to design for. Everyone is different and has a different idea/feel for what fits/is comfortable. -DVC

-Chazz-18 karma

How much pressure can these suits withstand?

JSCNASA29 karma

The max operating pressure of Z-2 is 10.6 psid (lbs/in2 delta), although analysis has shown that we could go much higher. We designed this high of a pressure so that an astronaut would have the option of doing an EVA without needing to perform an oxygen pre-breathe (like we do now). IMM

-Chazz-9 karma

Wow, when do you expect to finish this?

JSCNASA16 karma

We expect to have the Z-2 prototype suit delivered this November. We will test it in the human-rated vacuum chamber and the Neutral Bouyancy Lab (6.2 million gallon pool for simulating space walks) in 2015. This is leading to a human-rated thermal/vacuum chamber test of a full suit (pressure garment and portable life support system) in 2020. We could fly in space after that. AJR

cathedrameregulaemea8 karma

Wait..why are you testing the Z-2 in the NBL? I thought it was a planetary surface EVA suit. In any case, can you not substitute NBL testing with testing aboard the ISS? Doesn't that offer more fidelity? You could hang around close to Quest during the testing phase..?

JSCNASA25 karma

NBL Test = $

ISS Test = $$$$$$$$

In addition, in the NBL we can actually weigh-out the suit to roughly simulate a reduced gravity environment. We can't do this on ISS.


wrestlenrun5 karma

How are volume reservoirs incorporated into your design to keep volume constant while bending? The amount of thought that has to go into these suits purely from a biomechanical perspective is staggering. Amazing work!

JSCNASA10 karma

We use metal bearings that allow us to rotate the joints. We also use axial restraints that resistst the extension of parts of the suit; these let us bend the joints. -IMM

internet_commenter13 karma

Will next-gen suits have safeguards to prevent tears blinding astronauts like what happened to Col. Chris Hadfield?

JSCNASA18 karma

We are going to try. Several astronauts in training and in flight have experienced eye irritation. What happens is that either sweat or a small leak from the drink bag straw gets on the inside of the helmet which is treated with a soap solution to prevent fogging, kind of like spitting on your SCUBA mask. Ideally the helmet material will provide an anti-fog function without having to wipe it with a solution. We have tried to do that, but so far nothing has worked. --AJR

jabulaniamerica11 karma

What is your favorite aspect or feature of these new suits?

JSCNASA23 karma

I like that we are creating a better tool for astronauts. Our goal is to make a suit that protects the astronauts and let's them do their work without making them tired or even having to think about their suit. That is a lofty goal. Just keeping a person alive in space is major challenge. Helping them to do good work is exciting.
We haven't reached our goal, but we have made vast improvement over the current suit. We have a picture from a Vomit Comet flight with a suit subject doing a handstand. It scared me, but boy that is cool!


cathedrameregulaemea11 karma

Post that picture here!

Or, in reddit language: Pics or it didn't happen!

JSCNASA30 karma

It's hanging up in our advanced suit lab. I just ran over and took a quick phone shot: http://imgur.com/xurAcOf -SM

desuanon11 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

What suit materials would you like to see developed using nanotechnology?

What would the ideal properties be of said material?

When we went to the Moon, astronauts did not expect to deal with the surface’s unique regolith. What are some similar “unforeseen” issues your suit might face one day?

JSCNASA17 karma

Glad to. This is fun!

I'd like to see nanotechnology be used to have self-diagnosing and self-healing suit bladder (oxygen retention layer) and restraint layers. It would also be good to use nanotechnology to reduce the weight of the suit.

We are starting some feasibility studies to understand if the materials we currently use for space suits can be used for a Mars suit. Some previous experiments have indicated that the radiation environment may actually degrade the material to the point that they lose mass, which likely means they lose strength. Dust can have similar effects. We are going to irradiate fabrics through a simulated mission exposure and put them through materials property testing. If we need to develop new materials for a Mars suit, we want to know now. -AJR

Frabjous_Alice11 karma

What do you think is the biggest challenge astronauts struggle with when wearing the current suits? How will the new designs alleviate these challenges?

JSCNASA23 karma

The biggest challenge for astronauts working on ISS is the glove design. When working in microgravity, the small muscles of the hands and fingers are constantly being used for everything from translation around the vehicle to using power tools. Thus, it's no surprise that hand injuries account for almost half of all reported injuries in suit training and EVAs (severity tends to be low but frequency is high). We have over 62 different sizes of gloves with fine adjustments of finger lengths in each of those sizes, but we still see injury. As part of our High Performance EVA Glove project we're developing sensor systems that can be worn inside of the gloves during suited events to help us understand what aspects of the design are creating the biggest problems. We're also working to develop new materials that can reduce the number and thickness of layers on the finger joints to make the movements lower torque. - LTA

tornadoRadar10 karma

Why not use power assist to neutralize the torque for finger movements?

JSCNASA12 karma

It's something we're actually looking to evaluate the feasibility and benefit of, actually :-) -SM

yeauxlo10 karma

What is the biggest misconception people have about space suits?

JSCNASA20 karma

Dude, how much time do you have? Seriously there are quite a few and this is one of my favorite topics. One because I'm stubborn and always need to correct people when they're wrong (ask my wife, and I'm working on that). But also because I find it interesting how science fiction plays such an influential role in how people view space suits versus other technologies. For cars, flying vehicles, weapons, architecture, these things are all common in science fiction and while futuristic, they usually take on a similar form to existing and functional versions thereof. For spacesuits in science fiction, there is a draw to eschew the realities that confine real spacesuit design for a much more appealing aesthetic. On top of that, the most attractive spacesuits in science fiction are conformal, sleek and sexy, usually mimicking the human form approaching that of a supermodel or athletic superhero. So, in general I find this topic to be of particular interest because it ties into what people find attractive in other people as well as technology. In any case...to your specific question. I'll pick my top three.

-People are always surprised when they see the restraint layer of EVA suits. They are so used to seeing the outer layer only, whether in photos or movies or whatever that when they see the suits without the cover layer on, they are amazed by the level of detailed construction and engineering that goes into them. See my recent example above showing photos of the Apollo suit with and without the cover layer. And that is 50 year old suit technology!

-By extension most people are of the impression that to design a less bulky, sleeker suit is a trivial exercise and real EVA suits look the way they do because of some predetermined design solution. The truth is that we would love smaller, lighter, more comfortable suits. But to make them mobile to do real work in space or on Mars, we use heavily-engineered mobility elements at the joints that allow for sufficient range of motion. Imagine taking a tubular balloon the size of your leg and inflated as hard as a basketball. Now imagine bending it. That's what we are dealing with. It's a solvable solution but with today's technology it leads us down the road to components that are considerably larger than the human joint.

-One of the biggest is the simple reality that some spacesuits are designed to be pressurized only in a SHTF scenario. They afford very little pressurized mobility and instead are designed for unpressurized comfort, mobility and low thermal burden. Not unlike normal clothing except this clothing also saves you if your vehicle depressurizes. Suits we work on in our lab are designed to be worn and used only when pressurized. They allow things that are very difficult or impossible in launch and entry suits. The penalty you're paying for this mobility as I mentioned is mass and cost. It's an engineering trade and there are areas in between. The Apollo suit did both functions well enough and that was a great engineering feat. That works for a couple days but for our suits, and NASA's vision over the coming decades, we are talking about months or years on Mars. Very different.


JSCNASA10 karma

That you can't move in them. The EMU (the white space suit that is currently in orbit) provides very good arm dexterity. An entire space station was built with it! Our new walking suits provide a lot more leg mobility than you might think. They also provide good arm dexterity; check out a pic of one of our engineers doing a push-up in the suit!



Edit: typos

JSCNASA2 karma

<edited to reply to parent>

cathedrameregulaemea9 karma

What did a Mechanical Counter Pressure suit (or the person in charge of developing such a suit) ever do to your team? They seem to've gotten such step-motherly treatment! :P

TL;DR - But seriously..what the heck is going on with MCP designs?

  1. With some clever implementation of the Peltier effect, I wouldn't think there would be any problems with thermal regulation. No need for an LCVG; or its weighty, and Luca-threatening extractor fans, pumps and pipes. (Yes, you could use simple Joule heating to increase the temperature, but I was thinking about active cooling as well. In fact, if this was weaved into the fabric, it could arguably provide more spatially uniform temperatures - if wires can be manufactured in smaller sizes than pipes which have to transport a fluid)
  2. I understand donning/doffing the suit is going to be an ask. But a 'second skin' wouldn't need to be removed at all now (or atleast, not very frequently) would it? The current ISS commander's trialed long-duration underwear already (which IIRC, had a weave structure that wicked sweat away, and was also impregnated with silver antibacterial, deodorant nano-particles). So, isn't this 'disadvantage' more than made up for by VASTLY reducing the physical effort required for any EVA? Especially compared to current EVAs with their pressurised gloves, and the associated phalanges/cuticle trauma and/or pressure sores; the 'turn-your-entire-body-to-look-over-your-shoulder' annoyances etc.? Not doffing the suit also probably increases the risk of backward contamination, but a) we would have LANDED on a different planet at that point. How much longer are we going to treat it as pristine? b) No reason you can't wear a set of clothes over an MCP suit, and leave that in the airlock..
  3. MMOD and radiation protection are probably the only other considerations I can think of. But neither requires a pressurised volume. Have an internal MCP layer, and don body armour? Also, wouldn't something like an iso-grid strong-weave structure (a backbone of stronger threads at periodic intervals)... hell even something not much tougher than denim, maintain pressure on nearby parts of the suit, even if some bit of it were to tear? Very much unlike an air-pressure suit, where one entire segment is now suddenly at vacuum. Also, an LCVG breach due to the same impact would reduce survival time (although it probably won't be the limiting condition, given that an astronaut will probably be terminating the EVA and heading back to an A/L post impact. Then again, there's always Alfonso Cuaron's imagination...)
  4. Another advantage to all this is that the astronauts can breathe air at regular habitat pressure (since they don't need to reduce suit pressure as much as possible to avoid impeding mechanical motion). This means no overnight airlock campout, or even ISLE for a blood Nitrogen purge prior to EVA. They may still choose to breathe air at lower pressure than the habitat pressure, if that facilitates longer EVAs with the same mass of Nitrox/O2 in a tank (Does it?)

Anyway, the point of this rant (sorry for hogging screen real estate redditors!) is for me to learn the location of the proverbial “devil in the details”, and where I've made some oversimplifications. An answer would be much appreciated.

Edited text

JSCNASA15 karma

We've already responded to a few MCP suit questions above, but in the spirit of Reddit I'll answer the highest voted unanswered question. But, I'll be relatively brief since we've made related points above.

-You're correct about a TMG. MCP suits would likely require a TMG layer similar to that of a pressurized suit - these do result in significant contributions to joint torque and overall bulk. This is something often not mentioned in the context of MCP suits and something people often overlook when comparing the two.

I spoke above about MCP needing advancements in material technology and manufacturing. At the end of the day, the primary issues as I see it are that:

1) You need to pressurize the breathing cavity to at least 3psia. That means either some kind of breathing mask, which is not really ideal for regular full day EVAs, or some kind of neck seal that maintains a delta pressure of 3psid with minimal leakage. I'm actually not familiar with much work done on this yet, and maybe it's doable, but it certainly sounds uncomfortable to me given how much motive force is behind 3psid in my experience working around suits.

2) You mention don/doff and this is definitely an issue. But not a barrier to entry, in my opinion. There are ways being worked on to make it faster and easier but I've personally never seen it as a showstopper.

3) It is very difficult to apply the required pressure to all parts of the body and to verify you are applying the pressures you need through test - including the crotch, armpit, etc. It's not an unsolvable problem, mind you, and there are very smart people, some of which directly funded by NASA, working on it right now. So, I would not agree that NASA and/or our team pay lip service to MCP. We all love the idea and continue to support it. Our primary job is flight capable designs in the next 5-15 years.


cathedrameregulaemea8 karma

An internship offer would be appreciated even more so :P, but hey, I'm not a US Citizen and apparently that's how it goes. </Standard moan about nationality barriers>

JSCNASA18 karma

We have interns who are not US citizens. This semester at JSC we had one from Austria and another from Germany. You may be restricted from certain areas of the center, but US citizenship is not necessarily a prerequisite for a NASA internship. -JAW

Axelwickm9 karma

What is the biggest non esthetical difference between the new and the old suit?

JSCNASA18 karma

While the Shuttle/International Space Suit (ISS) suit was the first suit to be specifically designed for microgravity spacewalking, the Z-2 is the first planetary surface suit prototype of the fidelity to be used in a human-rated vacuum chamber ever built. Features that are specific to a planetary suit focus on lower torso mobility. The Z-2 has the following mobility features in the lower torso: --waist bearing --waist flexion/extension joint (sit up motion) --Hip bearing --soft hip joint --upper leg arms --ankle bearing --walking boot

We are also improving upper body mobility by placing the suit shoulders closer to the human shoulder and reducing don/doff (putting the suit on and taking it off) injury potential by having a rear-entry configuration.

We're excited about what the suit can do. Astronauts who use the current suit are impressed with how well they can move in our previous planetary protoytpes. We expect to take it up a notch with Z-2.

zleuth8 karma

Wish I saw this AMA earlier! Are newer suits going to be as height restrictive as older ones? I'm 6'5, and I still remember when I was 15 and "heighted" out of any possible career as an astronaut because of restrictions of available space on shuttles and equipment.

JSCNASA11 karma

Aha! Have faith! I am also 6'5" and there are a few suits in our collection that I actually fit in! The Z-2 is for shorter, smaller folks but I have been in the Z-1 and Mark III for instance. -SM

The_crew7 karma

Can you take a leak in it?

JSCNASA21 karma

One of the most common questions from adults and kids alike. Flight suits use a modified off-the-shelf adult diaper that we call the MAG (maximum absorbency garment). For our prototype suits, we usually are not in it more than a couple hours, so we just make sure to use the restroom before we get in, and it's usually never a problem... -SM

NoobieOne7 karma

When designing the new suits what was highest on your priority list?

Oxygen capacity?

Stronger materials?

Better Movement?

JSCNASA11 karma

Better Movement for sure.

We strive to design a machine (suit pressure garment) that mimics human motions as closely as possible with the least amount of effort possible. The areas that are of specific importance to us are the joints or flexible parts (i.e. fingers, hips, shoulders, elbows, and knees).


JSCNASA5 karma

Great question! Since we don’t make new space suits every day, we’re looking long term to design a space suit that can be used in multiple destinations. To do this, our primary focus is always keeping the astronaut safe. Next would be designing a more mobile suit that could be used to walk on the Moon or potentially Mars. The current suit is designed for microgravity and would be too heavy and not have enough mobility to be used on the Moon or Mars. We’re also focusing on making a robust suit that could be used on long term missions to the Moon or Mars, without having to return to Earth for maintenance. - AK

sjgonz6 karma

SSA Team!!! Greetings from New Jersey!

I have two questions for you guys:

1) In terms of the hardware, what is the limiting factor that would prevent an astronaut from doing EVAs longer than they have now?

2) what is your favorite piece of candy from the ASL candy bowl??


JSCNASA6 karma

1) For the EMU, the limiting factor is usually oxygen. Secondary limitation is the battery size/power consumption. 2) Almond Joy -RAR

JSCNASA6 karma

Red Lifesavers... but only 1.

JSCNASA4 karma

ALL THE CHOCOLATE!! - AY Why did you leave your candy bowl empty! -TN

JSCNASA4 karma

Cherry Jolly Ranchers! Protip: They also help you from getting sick on the vomit comet. -SM

lindsatron6 karma

As someone who watched Apollo 13 a lot at an early age, I put way too much thought into extremely trivial things you could/couldn't do in a space suit. For example, I taught myself how to pop my knuckles without having to use the other hand JUST IN CASE I were to become an astronaut one day. That did not happen so now I just have a weird skill, but I do wonder: what are the most trivial complaints/frustrations astronauts have given about the spacesuits (both new and old)? And is one of those complaints not being able to scratch an itch? That sounds like torture.


JSCNASA16 karma

It is interesting to see what you can and can't do in a suit. Even though we've seen hundreds of hours of people doing things in suits, we still can't always answer that question. Lucky for us, we can put people in a suit and have them try. It can be surprising.

Funny about the itch. One of the fun things we get to do with new suit subjects is get them all suited up, helmet on, and then we start scratching our noses. Pretty soon they reach up to scratch their newly itching nose. Doink! Glove on helmet. We giggle.

When working with human subjects you can expect that each one with dislike something. Just the nature of the work.


TheMaximusjk5 karma

What does the flat part on the back do?

JSCNASA6 karma

The hatch (flat part on the back) of the suit is where we the protable life support system (PLSS) is mounted onto the suit.


atikaa4 karma

Do the new suits weigh any more or any less than the current suits?

JSCNASA12 karma

The biggest factor that plays into the weight of the suit is the metal components such as bearings. Z-2 will have more bearings (like hip and leg bearings) than the EMU but we’re currently testing the compatibility of titanium in oxygen systems which provides significant weight reduction compared to stainless steel bearings used in the EMU. We’ve also tested composite bearings in the past but additional development is needed. DJV

JSCNASA10 karma

The short answer is Yes, the Z-2 suit will weigh less than the current space suits.
The Z-2 suit will weigh about 135lbs compared to the current EMU, which weighs over 300 lbs. Keep in mind though that the Z-2 suit won’t include a thermal micrometeriod garment (TMG) or a portable life support system (PLSS), which adds significant weight to the EMU. The weight of the EMU without the PLSS weighs ~195lbs, which is still much heavier than the Z-2. - AK

McNathan974 karma

What's the biggest discovery or innovation for space travel that you realistically hope to see in your lifetime?

JSCNASA15 karma

M3 (Manned Mission to Mars) -JAW

JSCNASA9 karma

Electromagnetism propulsion for satellites! -TN

0xD153A534 karma

Need any volunteers to test? I wouldn't mind getting into one, strapping on a parachute and skydiving from a suborbitally launched rocket...

I'm not even kidding.

JSCNASA6 karma

That's the dream... -TN

m_langz4 karma

Anything close to the iron man suit yet?

JSCNASA8 karma

We wish.

If we can dream it, we can do it!


GarlicAftershave4 karma

Do you have any awesome concepts that are waiting on a tech developments to make them practical?

JSCNASA12 karma

Dude, I would love to see spray-on space suits. There's this product called Fabrican that debuted at fashion week a few years ago that maybe combined with Flex Seal (as seen on TV!) technology could totally make it happen someday. -LTA

wonderslug3 karma

Howdy all,

It seems back entry of the new suit design forces multiple people to be involved in the suit-up and removal process? What thoughts have you given to an suit where single individual can go through the whole process?

JSCNASA10 karma

Actually, the rear-entry design makes it easier for one person to do it alone. You climb in the back, close the door behind you and lock with a latch. In theory it's possible to do it yourself. The mid-entry design is much harder, in my opinion. - SM

MrSmartyAss3 karma

What is the biggest size (in diameter) of space debris a next generation space suit will be able to absorb? And how much improvement in percentage numbers do you foresee is possible to reduce cosmic/ solar radiation exposure to space walkers in the next 10-20 years?

JSCNASA4 karma

In the next 10-20 years I see very little improvement in Galactic Cosmic and Solar Radiation protection for the suit, but more of a focus on vehicle shielding and monitoring/prediction of potentially harmful solar activity. The current suit provides very little radiation protection, and future suit designs focus more on increasing mobility and robustness. Adding radiation protection to the suit itself only decreases suit mobility. With additional solar monitoring satellites and refined solar prediction models, astronauts will have more time to return to a vehicle which contains a radiation shelter prior to harmful radiation reaching the astronaut. - AK

atikaa3 karma

Why are the new designs no longer white? Any room for a fashion designer at NASA? :)

JSCNASA14 karma

Actually, space suits will be white. The cover layer for the Z-2 is for a ground-test unit, so we had a chance to be creative. However, in space the right answer to protect the astronaut from the thermal environment is white. Yes! We have had interns here with fashion design backgrounds. We worked with Philadelphia University College of Design, Engineering and Commerce School of Design and Engineering on the Z-2 cover layer designs. We also are working with the University of Minnesota's College of Design (Design, Housing and Apparel) on student projects. We like to bring in different perspectives and thoughts. --AJR

cathedrameregulaemea2 karma

A. I saw that the Space-suit design team is offering the public a chance to vote (with the contest conveniently timed to show up on the NASA homepage just around the time of this IAmA: the NASA Media team really earn their Shorty awards don't they? :P) on which (<fineprint>outer coverings to a prototype</fineprint>) EVA suit (among 3 choices) NASA's going to build. I was, predictably, scandalised until I read the fineprint.[a]

Would you care to elaborate on the functional differences between each design?

[a] Interesting anecdote: One of my friends took an undergraduate chemistry course where the structure of chemical compounds were determined by a class poll, and not by peer reviewed/approved spectroscopy. He wasn't a happy bunny.

B. AIUI, the Z1 and Z2 are prototypes for surface EVAs on other planetary bodies. So I'm surprised that there was a design with exposed metallic joint rings. Even more surprised that it's winning (probably because it was termed 'technology'?). Wasn't static discharge and dust levitated by static charging due to bright sunlight/solar wind, and (near)zero humidity a problem on Apollo surface EVAs? It's still a problem on the ISS, requiring the definition of safe translation paths on the outside of the station, to take care not to come into contact with a part that's at a very different electrostatic potential. Also, isn't there a risk of this metal potentially "filing down" to sharp edges - both due to possible arcing, and mechanical abrasion as well?

What would be the strategy to mitigate this static charging on the surface? Maybe not so much for discharge, as much as risks of taking fine dust back into the habitat, where it may lead to pneumoconiosis and clog up ECLSS.

JSCNASA5 karma

The vote for the Z-2, as you noted, is for the aesthetics of the cover layer only. No offense to all the armchair spacesuit engineers out there, but we opted to maintain ownership of the engineering design decisions :-) There are really no functional differences between the three designs. All the technical details are set and hidden below the cover layer. For example, check out the difference between the Apollo suit with and without the cover layer. You can see that most of the technical design is under the cover layer.

Also, exposed bearings no good as you noted for flight suits due to electrical shock hazards and other reasons. Even bearings with the metal covered could pose hazards simply by being large electron collectors in ambient plasma fields, or if the covering is ripped or scratched. We are actively involved in ongoing R&D efforts associated with replacing metallic bearings with non-metallics or less conductive bearings (PS they also reduce weight!) or covering up the bearings with scratch resistant or self-healing coatings. -SM

TeachersPen2 karma

What advice can you give students (elementary age) who are already interested in STEM fields? I have a ton of students who love everything about space, they would love to hear some advice from you!

JSCNASA2 karma

Keep working hard and never give up on what you love to do! Space exploration is an ongoing effort, and we need the younger generation to be prepared to take on the challenge. :] -JW & AY & TN

askaaronk2 karma

How big of a role do costs play when it comes to deciding between a high cost, large improvement vs low cost, small improvement for the spacesuit?

JSCNASA2 karma

We improve as much as we can afford. Cost plays a very big role in dictating space suit design. One particular facet of design is sizing. We'd like to be able to fit the entire population in a space suit, but that would be cost-prohibitive because you'd need to have so many different sizes of components. So, we end up designing a suit that can fit "most" people, although this still excludes big & small people. -IMM & RAR

wrestlenrun2 karma

I understand that there is a design in current EVA missions in which the astronaut and suit are operating at around 1/3 of atmospheric pressure due to mobility concerns that come about from the work that must be done when bending to reduce volume. As a result, pure O2 must be used, which entails a decompression stage before action can be taken outside the ship. Due to this delay in response to potentially crucial repairs that must be undertaken, are there plans with the new suit designs to increase operating pressure in the suit? If so, how does this change your design considerations when engineering the suit?

JSCNASA2 karma

The current space suit requires astronauts to undergo a ‘Pre-breathe’ of 100% Oxygen for several hours prior to operating at a reduced pressure of 4.3 psia in the suit to decrease the possibility of developing decompression sickness (DCS). The Z-2 Suit operates at 8.3 psia, which is still lower than the vehicle’s pressure but higher than the current space suit. By having a higher operating pressure, astronauts would need little or no pre-breathe prior to going EVA.
To design a suit which operates at a higher operating pressure, more attention was paid to materials and softgood joint design like the shoulders and legs. We’ve designed and tested several different shoulder for example that were tested on the Z-1 suit prior to deciding which shoulder designs to use on the Z-2 Suit. - AK

JacksDiseasedColon2 karma

How many of the old suits do you still have around?

JSCNASA3 karma

If you’re from the Smithsonian…none :) DJV

chocki3052 karma

Do you ever look at early (space era) suits, and just think "wtf where they thinking?" Or "you know, if they just did this one thing different it would have worked"?

JSCNASA3 karma

Yes and no.

Some suits look really comical, top heavy, and to this day I'm not sure what inspired them to even pursue the form factor. Example: The Grumman Suit

But, most of the other designs, starting with Wiley Post, through the Navy/BFG suits, Mercury, Gemini, Apollo were at least, a natural progression, and at best, an amazing feat of engineering. I'm especially fond of the Apollo suits which were a perfect balance of getting the different jobs done that the suit needed to perform, and little more given the enormous time constraints. -SM

TheTurkeyStick2 karma

What kind of software do you use?

JSCNASA3 karma

We use a bunch of different software. For design, mostly Pro-E. For Analysis, Pro-E, LS-DYNA, and Nastran. For Testing, Labview and we have in-house suit test software that helps us document and track our manned space suit testing (Thanks Cox). -RAR

Dasair2 karma

"these are the suits that will someday be worn by astronauts exploring planetary surfaces like Mars or other far off exploration destinations. "

So we will eventually visit Mars?

edit: by 'we' I mean humans themselves.

JSCNASA3 karma

Yes! It is not a question of if, but when. A manned mission to Mars would constitute the single greatest achievement of the human race. In my opinion, we could set foot on Mars in a decade given adequate funding and a definitive goal. -JAW

average_username62 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA from a High School Senior going into Engineering. My question is, realistically, how far off is a manned mission to Mars, and what is the biggest impediment to such a mission, besides the expenses involved? Thanks in advance.

JSCNASA3 karma

2030s. Most likely the end of that decade. If we had unlimate funding and support from congress we could probably approximatley 10 years. Probably the biggest impediment, other than cost, would be handling the radiation the crew would be exposed to while traveling outside the earths Van Allen belt. Deep space had vast amount of GCR (galactic cosmic rays) flying around. If not shielded correclty, the crew would far exceed their lifetime allowalbe dosage of radiation leading to increase of cancer.


PapaBrownman2 karma

How long (roughly) does it take to make a spacesuit. Like the entire process from design to testing to manufacturing?

JSCNASA3 karma

Z2 is being manufactured as a flight like suit to be manned tested in a vacuum chamber and in the neutral bouyancy lab (NBL) which will take approximatley 3 yrs when testing is all done. 18 months for design and manufacturing and the rest of the time spent testing. For a fully flight certified suit approximatley 5 yrs.


ilovemods2 karma

What's something every astronaut requests to have in their spacesuit, but you can't accommodate because of design, and well, physics?

JSCNASA4 karma

A partner? JK

At one time we tried to incorporate a food stick, but it was way to messy. Food gel everywhere and no way to clean it off your face while EVA.


Methix2 karma

You mentioned that you are all engineers that started your career at NASA as co-ops. What level of degrees do you have (bachelor, master, PhD)? How competitive is it to get into these programs?

JSCNASA2 karma

Some of us have master degrees. Many of us have bachelors. None of us have PhDs. In our world, it is more important to get started working and gain experience.

The level of competition depended on the school. The hard part for me was to get the NASA interview from the Purdue cooperative education program. Different schools run their co-op programs different ways though.

Some of our interns said that the NASA JSC pathway intern (co-op) program gets 1,000 applications and selects 30 each semester. It is competitive. --AJR

svenne2 karma

Which astronaut would you like to meet the most if you had the opportunity?

JSCNASA6 karma

JERRY ROSS!!!! He is awesome!!!!! He set the record for most space flights-- first to fly 7 times. He held the record for the most space walking hours at different times in his career. He performed EVA's on the first International Space Station construction mission and the last. He's written a book (Spacewalker) and has a childrens' book coming out Check them out!

I'd also like to meet the first astronaut to walk on Mars :) --AJR

Edit: PS. I'm biased. He's my Dad.

Chaseybee2 karma

How much, on average, does it cost to produce a new spacesuit (including R&D)?

JSCNASA3 karma

Very big ball park swag: R&D alone ~$100 mil, suit plus PLSS (life support backpack) ~$80 mil/suit.


cathedrameregulaemea1 karma

Surely you mean something like $80k? (excluding R&D)?

JSCNASA1 karma

Nope. Hundreds of MILLIONS...


DirtyDev12 karma

Richard, Is this venture based more on necessity of a new suit, or is there new material/process available that NASA feels could up the performance compared to the current suit?

JSCNASA2 karma

The Z-2 suit is designed to be an exploration suit that can offer greater mobility in all exploration environments than current or past suits. So, the Z-2 suit is based on the necessity of new environments, but it also incorporates all of the lessons learned from several prototype development suits over the past several decades and incorporates state of the art technology and materials to be the best AND lightest suit ever. -RAR

-homeostasis2 karma


What academic accomplishments allowed you to be where you are today in your field of work?

JSCNASA4 karma

Pursuing a degree in STEM definitely sparked our interests in working at NASA. In addition, embrace all the experiences you gained throughout your educational path. As co-ops, we get the opportunity to work on meaningful projects and we have the flexibility to experience different aspects of JSC!

-AY & TN

iiDrushii2 karma

Hey NASA Folks!

Quick question about one of the Z-1 prototypes...

Was the white and green color scheme an intentional nod to Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear? Or was this completely coincidental?

JSCNASA5 karma

We had a very creative and intelligent engineer working with our advanced space suit team who came up with the “Buzz Lightyear” cover layer color palette and design, although it was a little organic in that we chose the color first, then the layout a little bit over time. We are very happy that the use of this cover layer design led to so much interest in our advanced space suit development, and we intend to renew interest through the cover layer design contest. - RAR

SkuliSheepman2 karma

Don't know if this is related to spacesuits with the purpose of being used in a vacuum, but, Are there or have there been any plans within NASA for a suit to wear in extraterrestrial environments equipped with an atmosphere, such as Mars and even the harsher environments like Venus and Titan?

Thanks in advance.

JSCNASA2 karma

Unfortunately, humans do not know of any places in the universe, besides Earth, where we could survive without a space suit. From an atmosphere perspective, we need two big things to survive: (1) Oxygen and (2) Pressure. A space suit provides both of these things. The Z-series space suits are being designed to function in a vacuum and other planetary bodies with atmospheres, like Mars. Venus might be too harsh of an environment for a space suit, though. IMM

Universu2 karma

Why is the new NASA Spacesuit designated as “Z”? Where are its manual control? How will they operate the suit?

JSCNASA4 karma

Well, we were in our office trying to decide what to call the new suit we were building. My mentor had suits in the "Mark" series. Other heritage prototype suits were called "RX", "AX", "Litton", and more. 'X' is often used for 'exploration'. We wanted a new designation and were throwing out ideas. "What about 'Z'?" said our intern. We liked it and, hence, the Z-1 was born. Zaida, our intern, was pleased.

The Z suits so far just consist of the pressure garment. The controls on a suit are to control the portable life support system (PLSS), so we don't have controls. We are working on design for the display and controls right now. We've done some preliminary testing with different hardware configurations. Glenn Research Center (GRC) is the lead on that hardware. It will likely be mounted on the chest of the suit, because there really isn't any other place to put them. In field testing of the suit, we have tried out voice command, arm mounted controls, mouse based systems, soft (fabric) switches and several other concepts. We tell the controls guys that we'll give the 1 switch because that is all the room we have on the suit. AJR

ConnorTLaw2 karma

What is the strangest feature of a spacesuit that you've ever heard of/designed?

JSCNASA8 karma

There are a lot of interesting features that have been incorporated in suits over time. Some early glove designs had a fake metal finger nail. The Smithsonian has a suit concept that is a can with legs so that the person could stand up, walk somewhere, and then sit down with the legs on the can supporting the suit.
One feature on suits I find to be the strangest is the helmet purge valve. Its purpose is to be able to flush bad air out of the helmet. What it really is is a hole in our space suit inches from your face!!!! Mostly we try really hard not to have holes in space suits. That we on purpose put one in the helmet is just a little freaky to me. --AJR

cathedrameregulaemea3 karma

Wait wait.. there's a purge valve in the helmet?

  1. Was this an option available to Luca Parmitano, during US EVA-23, when water started pooling in his helmet?
  2. Can you sim this in the vacuum chamber?

3. Can you describe the whole shebang of what happened on that EVA?

JSCNASA6 karma

Immediately following Luca's suit failure, the EMU engineering team started brainstorming options of what solutions we could provide to make EVA safe until root cause of the water failure could be found. Using the purge valve was one of the first things we investigated. We set-up a test in one of our small vacuum chambers to see how much water we could get through the purge valve before it froze shut in a giant icicle. We proved that we could reject several ounces of water by that method but we couldn't derive a sure-fire method to get the water to the valve. Human hair is an excellent sponge and the convex spaces of our eyes, noes, ears, and mouth are also places where water pools in microgravity and stays unless you can shake, suck, or wipe it off. Unfortunately, the open purge valve doesn't create enough suction to pull large blobs off the faces- even if you smoosh your face right next to the opening. -LTA

theclassicneil2 karma

Are there any designs for artificial gravity either through wearing special suits or through actually generating gravity?

JSCNASA4 karma

We have the anti-gravity room right next to the alien containment cells.

If Einstein's gravity waves can be used to let us manipulate gravity I'd be all for it. I love Mars gravity.


VirulentStrain2 karma

Human Factors question; Do these suits allow full movement for reaching over ones head? With the large tortoise shell piece is it difficult to stand up if a user falls on their back?

Is your anthropometric data available to the public or is the majority of it proprietary to NASA? I'm an industrial designer and the best I've found is the Dreyfuss stuff from the 50's and the re-hash from the 70's.

I think the suits look great by the way. The EL wire is cool, although I think any pattern or aesthetic should match the mission or NASA graphics to create a cohesive brand. If the EL wire is to locate an individual on the surface from a distance, it should be more prominent and higher up.

Great work! When the paperwork is as tall as the suit it's ready right? :)

JSCNASA2 karma

The EVA suits have a good range of motion, but it's not the same as shirtsleeves mobility due to the programming of the joints themselves (you have to move in a specific "pattern" to get through the range of shoulder mobility). With a good suit fit, you can reach the top of your helmet to actuate lights and video cameras and perform some EVA tasks, but we try to minimize overhead activities as that's just not recommended from an ergonomic standpoint in any work environment.

Falling on your back in our advanced suits like MK-III, Z1, and Z-2, isn't a problem. Thanks to the mobility in the waist and hip bearings, you can flip yourself back to the prone position. We've tested this on the Vomit Comet several times.

The anthro data we have is considered Protected Health Information by the Institutional Review Board. It can be requested in a non-identified fashion by research teams with documented research plans via the Human Research Program (http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/humanresearch/#.UzM5_fldWAg). -LTA

NairForceOne2 karma

While I do like your set of new suits that you've put up for voting (the TRON one is especially fetching), they seem quite bulkier than I was expecting. Was a suit similar to the MIT EVA Biosuit Concept considered during your design phase? Or has that technology not reasonably matured yet?

Also, regarding the man in the "Trends in Society" suit with a briefcase...what's in the box? WHAT'S IN THE BOX?

JSCNASA3 karma

It's a MacGuffin.


hacelepues2 karma


JSCNASA8 karma

Based on your post history, I surmise you're from Georgia Tech. This is a perfect example of the many collaborations that we foster with universities and other organizations! I don't have much time left to answer your questions here, but I think you have my email - if not, ask Chris and he'll get it for you :-) -SM

jgatip2 karma

How heavy are these suits?

JSCNASA2 karma

Computer analyses estimate the Z-2 will weigh approximately 135 lbs. -JW

AprilFoolsGold2 karma

When you swim towards the fish do they swim away from you? Next-Gen ftw


JSCNASA4 karma

Just keep swimming.... just keep swimming... -TN

superzam2 karma


Now my Question for everyone:

What has been your best experience so far at NASA and what lead you to be working on the spacesuits now? Also does everyone get to put one on or just a few people working on the project?

JSCNASA3 karma

Tuan: Hey! Its been an awesome experience working with the Space Suit Assembly Development team. The work that I get to do here is meaningful and it teaches me a lot of valuable technical skills. Other than that, our co-ops/intern community are pretty close and we have a lot of epic weekend adventures such as skydiving, scuba diving, etc! The best one so far is that we got to take a selfie with Gene Kranz! So awesome! We do many suited tests, and you can volunteer to be a test subject. You would need to get a physical and fit check.

Ami: There has never been a dull moment working a Johnson Space Center. Aside from the great opportunities such meeting astronauts, going on launch trips, and watching Apollo 13 in the Apollo Mission Control room; my best experience is being able to design a prototype and actually build it with my own hands!

LivingMichaelJackson2 karma

Function (x) vs looking cool (y), what ratio x:y?

JSCNASA2 karma

100:0. We've designed the suit for functionality. When possible, though, we try to make it look cool :). The cover layer that people are voting on does not inhibit the functionality of the suit. It exists to (1) Protect the sensitive parts of the suit from damage (restraint layer, bearings, etc) and (2) Make it look cool. IMM

orenmazor1 karma

I'm wondering whether there was ever any consideration for suit attachments? something like a third arm that has a built in vise, or other small changes you could make to a suit that would allow it to be more useful in a given environment (like something that would make a suit more stable in microgravity)

JSCNASA3 karma

There are several tool attachments that can be added to a space suit, usually through attachment to a hard interface on the suit such as the waist ring. The following images are of the space suit, the EMU, currently used on Space station. The Z2 suit will be designed to have similar tool interfaces.





the_tokenasian1 karma

How much does a spacesuit cost? Say i wanted to buy one of those "tron" suits, how much should i expect to drop?

also, hey Tuan! this is brian from CSULB!

JSCNASA3 karma

Hey Brian! Probably more than we can afford combined.... -TN

zombie_eyes1 karma

Have you come up with a solution to the whole "liquid cooling system spraying all over your visor and leaving you blind" thing?

JSCNASA3 karma

See the answer about Col. Hadfield tearing up


zombie_eyes4 karma

Hey! Thanks for responding. Quick subquestion. I'm currently going for mechanical engineering and am having to take this damned circuits class...because you know. You take a little of everything. And I loathe it. Like beyond loathe. Was there a class you had to take that was like that? Which sub-branch are you in? Like mech/Aero/biomedical/biomech etc? I'm losing hope.

JSCNASA5 karma

Quick poll in the room: all of the ME's in here also loathed classes involving electrons. I found it really hard to conceptualize things I couldn't see. Thankfully, we have a few team members that dig that sort of thing :) - LTA

iamaAMAfan1 karma

Hello NASA Engineers!

What compelled you all to pursue careers with NASA? Have you always been interested in space exploration?

JSCNASA3 karma

I know that as a kid, I had a Space Shuttle bank in my bedroom. I think everyone else in the room was of a similar mindset. -SM

JSCNASA2 karma

IMO who doesn't grow up dreaming of being an astronaut.