The interior of the suit was designed using 3D human laser scans and features 3D-printed hardware. It is more impact-resistant than previous suits. Now, it's time to decide what the outer layer will look like.
"The cover layer of a prototype suit is important as it serves to protect the suit against abrasion and snags during the rigors of testing," the suit's designers wrote on a contest page. They are asking the public to vote on a series of three designs created in a collaboration with Philadelphia University.
The first of the designs is said to mimic the ocean. "Mirroring the bioluminescent qualities of aquatic creatures found at incredible depths, and the scaly skin of fish and reptiles found across the globe, this design reflects the qualities that protect some of Earth's toughest creatures," the description states. The defining feature of this gray and white suit is an electroluminescent wire that zigzags across the chest and torso and glows in low light.
The second design "pays homage to spacesuit achievements of the past while incorporating subtle elements of the future," the designers write. "By using Luminex wire and light-emitting patches, this design puts a new spin on spacewalking standards such as ways to identify crew members." There is a blue electroluminescent "Y" on the chest, reminiscent of a superhero's costume.
In the third option, the electroluminescent piping runs down the arms and legs, as well as forming elongated teardrops on the chest. It is said to reflect what "everyday clothes may look like in the not too distant future" and play into the growing wearable technology trends.
Part of the agency's Z-series of spacesuits, the Z-2 prototype will replace the Z-1, which Time Magazine named one of the Best Inventions of 2012.
As of March 27, the second option, known as "Technology," was running away with the vote. It has 65 percent, compared to 13.3 percent for option 3 ("Trends in Society") and 21.6 percent for option 1 ("Biomimicry").