NASA Those are big jobs for a device that sounds like something someone might pick out of a closet and zip on like a heavy parka. That's why engineers from the University of North Dakota who are evaluating their suit design at Kennedy would really prefer a different term. By Steven Siceloff
'"Suit is really kind of a misnomer," said Pablo De Leon, the researcher leading this week's evaluations. "Containing a human being into anything is very complex, so we have a spacesuit which is really a miniaturized spacecraft, and it has to be built in a way that is mobile, fairly comfortable and lets you work. It's really much more of a machine."
'The prototype De Leon and his team are analyzing is called the NDX-1. The suit is good for trying different technologies but is not necessarily a product that would work as-is on another world. That's why researchers are taking deliberate and innovative steps to test carefully to show different possibilities. During the suit performance tests, the team also will evaluate self-developed surface sampling tools that were based on Apollo-era designs.
'NASA’s Johnson Space Center designed and built two spacesuit prototypes, known as the Prototype Exploration Suite (PXS), for use in low- and zero-gravity, and the Z-2, which is testing mobility technology for surface exploration of Mars. NASA’s prototype suits focus on technology demonstrations for a planetary surface suit, improving suit fit and performance, and upgrades to the life support systems while minimizing the amount of equipment required to keep the suit operational.'