December 19, 2012 5:05pm PT by Seth Abramovitch
NASA's Next-Generation Spacesuit Looks Like Buzz Lightyear
If your kids didn't already want to be astronauts when they grow up -- just wait until they get a look at the Z-1.
It's NASA's next generation of spacesuit, and it bears more than a passing resemblance to the suit worn by Buzz Lightyear in Pixar's beloved Toy Story films.
The Z-1 Prototype Spacesuit and Portable Life Support System 2.0, produced for NASA by the David Clark Co., is white with fluorescent green stripes and features a large, hemispherical transparent dome helmet -- just like Lightyear's.
Named one of Time magazine's inventions of the year, the suit is designed to take astronauts into long missions into deep space. It features a rear-entry port that gives galaxy-hopping space rangers an easy way to dock with shuttles and space stations without the need for an airlock. Ingenious!
The Z-1 is a prototype, NASA stresses, and will be subject to further revisions before it's actually put into use by the agency in 2017 -- hopefully by which time the U.S. space program will be back in full swing.
And this isn't the only Buzz Lightyear/NASA crossover: Disney and NASA have joined forces to develop hands-on educational activities and exhibits centered around the character's fictional voyage to, and 450 days spent living inside, the International Space Station.
It's part of a program to increase kids' interest in space travel and the sciences.