ILC Dover's latest spacesuit design could eventually take astronauts back to the moon or even to Mars.

NASA has awarded an 18-month contract to ILC Dover to design, manufacture, and test the next generation of the space agency's spacesuits.  Dubbed the Z-2, the new suits will be designed to improve spacewalk capability for astronauts and will be able to operate at higher pressure than previous suits.  That increased pressure capability should improve efficiency when astronauts are performing spacewalks.

"We are honored to have been awarded this contract," said ILC's Space Suit Assembly Product Manager Patricia Stoll.  "We look forward to working with NASA to develop the next generation space suit that may eventually walk on the surface of the moon or Mars."  

The Z-2 will be designed to work with all of NASA's portable life systems current being developed at the Johnson Space Center.  They'll also work with both classical air locks and the latest NASA designs.

ILC Dover has been in the business of making space suits since the Apollo program.  The company's suits have been worn on every manned U.S. space mission.  The company also produced the airbags that cushioned the descent of NASA's Pathfinder, Spirit and Opportunity landers as they hit the surface of Mars.