NASA is using fashion and design to help keep interest in space exploration alive, reports Belinda Lanks in Bloomberg Businessweek (4/30/14). The device was a public vote on various "next-generation spacesuit" designs, otherwise known as the Z-2. This year’s model is a sequel "to Z-1, a Buzz Lightyear-esque getup" (image) that in 2012 was "named one of the year’s best inventions by Time. It was also the first major overhaul of the spacewalking suit in about three decades."
This year’s winner is a suit called ‘technology’, "a subtle homage to spacesuits of yore … a gray uniform with glowing patches of turquoise on its upper and lower torso," designed "to help identify individual crewmembers." (image) Where Z-1 featured "a soft, flexible body for greater astronaut mobility," Z-2 has "a hard composite torso" which works better with larger body types. Developed using "3D printing technologies that make prototyping quicker and cheaper" it is specifically designed "for walking on the surface of the moon."
Even on the cheap, the suit "cost $4.4 million to develop, according to Wired." It will be "built by November" but "won’t be deployed" as it "does not offer protection from the micrometeorites, heat and radiation found in space." The suit beat out biomimicry, "which mirrors the bioluminescence of aquatic creatures found in the deep ocean … as well as trends in society," based on a prediction of "what everyday clothes will look like in the future" — apparently not much "different from today’s workout pants."