NASA is talking steps to make spacewalking on an asteroid a reality, as it is testing lighter and more mobile spacesuits for astronauts.
At its Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, the agency has been experimenting with a modified version of its iconic orange Advanced Crew Escape System (ACES) suit that would be suitable for the asteroid excursion.
The big, bulky Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) suits worn by astronauts on the International Space Station are simply too large for the limited space inside the Orion spacecraft that the mission would be using, so the team is trying to make the ACES suit better suited for deep space exploration, which includes making it more mobile.
The tweaks are being made to create a suit that can be used both in and outside of the spacecraft.
“We’re stepping back to our heritage to be able to use one suit for multiple tasks,” crew survival systems manager Dustin Gohmert, said.
NASA previously revealed its Buzz Lightyear-esque Z-1 spacesuit concept earlier this year, and said that it could be ready for a variety of missions as early as 2015 — but it seems that it's not quite the right fit for the asteroid mission.