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The Z-2 marks several milestones for NASA, which collaborated with space-suit-maker ILC Dover on the prototype. It’s the first surface-specific planetary mobility suit to be tested in full vacuum, for one. It also the first hard upper torso to be equipped with a suit port that docks with a spacecraft or rover so an astronaut can climb inside without letting air in or out. Suit-sizing will be more of a cinch, thanks to the use of three-dimensional body scans and 3D-printed hardware.

The Z-2 suit uses 3D body scans and 3D-printed hardware for sizing and development.

Plus, a cover layer, which protects the suit against abrasion and snags, allows engineers to play with elements never used in a space suit before. Together with ILC and student designers from Philadelphia University, NASA has narrowed down its options to three possibilities: “Biomimicry,” a pattern inspired by the bioluminescence of aquatic creatures found at fathomless ocean depths; the TRON-like “Technology,” which boasts glowing panels devised from Luminex wire and light-emitting patches; and “Trends in Society,” a sporty livery based on ideas of what “everyday clothing may look like in the not-too-distant future,” according to NASA.

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NASA expects to have the fully constructed Z-2 suit by November 2014. The deadline to make your selection is April 14.

+ Z-2 Space Suit


[Via NBC News]