Amy Ross leads NASA’s efforts in advanced pressure garment technology and is spearheading the first total redesign of astronaut outerwear in nearly 30 years.
Her latest creation, called the Z-2 Spacesuit, is a $4.4 million dollar planetary exploration suit designed for walking the surface of the Moon, Mars, and any other landforms a spacecraft can land on.
The most conspicuous innovation is a rigid shell on the back, called the “Suitplate Interface Port”.
The port allows astronauts to enter and exit the outfit by docking with a vehicle, forgoing a trip through an airlock, and pulls double duty as the attachment point for the Portable Life Support System—the backpack that provides oxygen, thermal regulation, and other functions.
This is a closer-to-the-present version of the farther-out designs coming out of MIT; the latter still suffer from issues of material technology that remain to be solved.
Amy Ross of NASA via Wired.