The Z-1 is the latest NASA space suit, and it’s designed for planetary exploration, right down to the Buzz Lightyear paintjob.
Its innovations are largely in the flexible joints, fitted with bearings in the waist, hips, upper legs, and ankles (to make retrieving rock samples and running from alien species more feasible), along with all of the new materials found in the “heavily engineered” inner suit, which include urethane-coated nylon to retain air and polyester to help the suit hold its shape.
But the Z-1’s pièce de résistance is its inventive back port, which allows the suit to latch into a planetary rover as part of its outer shell. This port also means that astronauts can simply slide from the vehicle into the suit, getting dressed instantly before detaching and walking on the surface of another planet. Just as important, the suit is already perfectly pressurized, too, meaning that astronauts can avoid some of the deep-sea-diver-esque pressurization routines that make trips outside the ship such a hassle.
Source: fastcodesign.comAdded: 4 January 2013