Testing of the Z-2 Space Suit at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory
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The Z-2 space suit is the product of the last fifty years of NASA’s space suit research and testing experience. The Z-2 suit was originally developed as an exploration space suit for use on a planetary surface, such as the moon or Mars. However, Z-2 could also be used in microgravity at the International Space Station (ISS) to supplement or replace the existing Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU). To evaluate the microgravity performance of Z-2 for compatibility at the ISS, the suit was tested in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, which is the primary microgravity testing environment for space suits. Seven test subjects, including five astronauts, performed various tasks that are representative of the tasks performed at the ISS. Test subjects performed tasks in the Z-2 suit and the EMU so that relative comparisons could be drawn between the two suits. Two configurations of the Z-2 space suit were evaluated during this test series: the ELTA configuration and the ZLTA configuration. The ELTA configuration, which was the primary test configuration, is comprised of the Z-2 upper torso and the EMU lower torso. The ZLTA configuration is comprised of the Z-2 upper torso with the Z-2 lower torso, which contains additional mobility elements. This paper discusses the test methodology and preliminary test results from the Z-2 NBL test series.