NASA asks public to choose next spacesuit design

3 options based on ocean, function, trends

HOUSTON - NASA is asking the public to choose the design for its next-generation spacesuit.

[SLIDESHOW: NASA unveils new spacesuit designs]

Engineers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston unveiled three designs for the outer shell of its upgraded "Z-2" suit.

According to NASA, "Z-2 takes the next step ... approaching a final flight-capable design."

The first of the three designs is nicknamed "Biomimicry" and is inspired by the world's oceans. It incorporates the bioluminescent qualities of deep-sea fish with wires that emit light on the front and back of the upper section. "Biomimicry" also draws inspiration from the scaly skin of reptiles.

The second design -- "Technology" -- honors past spacesuits while integrating futuristic elements. The second suit uses both wire and patches to emit light, which could be used to identify crew members. "Technology" also features collapsing pleats for easier movement and "abrasion-resistant panels" to protect astronauts.

[RELATED: Vote on new spacesuit designs]

NASA's final design aims to evoke a sense of what clothes could look like in the future. Nicknamed "Trends in Society," the third option uses a color scheme inspired by modern sportswear. Electroluminescent patches and wires are incorporated on the arms, the chest and the lower torso.

The public can vote on the three designs through April 15. NASA expects the Z-2 suit to be built by November 2014.

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