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NASA/Johnson Space Center

15 Secrets of Space Suit Design

NASA/Johnson Space Center
NASA/Johnson Space Center

It’s no secret that astronauts couldn’t survive the harsh environment of space without their suits. But there are plenty of things you might not know about how these suits go from concept to prototype to the final frontier. We asked Lindsay Aitchison, Space Suit Engineer at the Advanced Space Suit Design Group at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, to walk us through the process.

1. Designing space suits requires a particular set of skills.

And they’re not necessarily the ones you might think. Aitchison says the job requires both critical thinking and creativity. “You need to be detail-oriented and come up with a very precise test plan,” she says. “When you’re working with human test subjects, you have to design a test where you get constructive feedback on things that are squishy subjects, like comfort. How do you define comfort? You have to think about it from an engineering standpoint and engineer a suit to be comfortable.” Thinking creatively, Aitchison says, allows her to see how technologies from different fields might be incorporated into space suit design.

2. Suits are crafted for their missions.

When creating a new suit, Aitchison says NASA’s engineers must answer two questions to help them determine the structure of the suit: Where are you going and what are you doing?

The engineers start with where the astronaut is going, which falls into two categories: A micro-gravity location or a planetary environment, where they’ll have to walk (which determines how much mobility they’ll need in their suit). The engineers also consider things like how high radiation might be, the temperature ranges an astronaut will experience, and the risks of micro-meteoroids.

Next, engineers have to think about what astronauts will be doing on their missions: Will they be walking on their hands, as they would in micro-gravity, or walking on their feet, as they would on a planetary surface? Will they be digging with tools, or carrying everything on a toolbelt and performing tasks with their upper body? Will they need to be autonomous? “If you're on a planetary surface, that's pretty far from earth, so we're trying to develop more technologies so that you do autonomously EVAs,” Aitchison says, “whereas [on] space stations, you have a lot more direct contact with the flight control team, so we can offload some of those informatics and rely on flight control to help us.”

3. New Suits Need New Shoes.

EMU suit; photo courtesy of NASA.

The suit most people are familiar with is the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) suit. Because it's designed for use in micro-gravity—in which astronauts use their hands to move themselves around—to make repairs and modifications to the International Space Station (ISS), telescopes, and more during spacewalks, it needs to have mobility in the shoulders, hands, and arms. "You use the lower area [of the suit] for stability, so that way you have a stable work platform if you're at the end of a robotic arm," Aitchison says. "If it's too loosey goosey, you can't get any work done."

But new space suits, including the new Z-2, are being designed to go to planetary environments, so Aitchison and other designers spent a lot of time focusing on the design of the waist and hip joints—and the shoes. "This is the first time since Apollo that we need to have a walking boot, and when you're walking in different gravity fields, the way you walk changes," Aitchison says. "So we're focusing on how to design a boot to work with how you walk in, say, Martian or Lunar gravity environments. It's very different from the EMU, which is just a hard-soled boot."

To figure out what kind of shoe they'd want on their new suits, Aitchison did a number of walking tests with different suits in 2008. "We had [the suits] offloaded to different gravity weights, so if you were walking on a treadmill, it felt like you were walking at 3/8 gravity or 1/6 gravity because [a rig] was holding up the weight of the suit," she says. The team placed motion capture markers on the lower half of the suit to analyze how the foot, ankle, and hips were moving at different gravities. "We noticed through our testing that people tend to swing their hips up and sort of gallop [in different gravities], so if you pay attention to that, you can figure out where you need to have flexibility versus stiffness in the sole [of the shoe] to make that motion easier."

Though the team is still evaluating designs, Aitchison says that they're currently looking at a hiking boot sole. "It's pretty stiff in the forefoot but it's got some flexibility in the mid foot so you can sort of do those kneeling tasks."

4. The goal is to make new suits lighter.

Apollo suit; photo courtesy of NASA.

The EMU weighs a whopping 300 pounds (the astronauts, of course, don't feel that weight in microgravity). The Apollo suits, including backpacks, weighed 180 pounds on Earth and just 30 pounds on the Moon, by comparison—but, Aitchison says, "they didn't have a lot of mobility to them." The goal for new suits is to make them lighter while maintaining mobility. "When we add mobility, we're talking about adding hard elements like bearings, which make it very easy to work in a pressurized suit but come with a mass penalty," Aitchison says. "So we're trying to figure out low mass solutions for having those hard elements. We're looking at titanium because that saves us about 30 percent of mass on the bearings when we do that. And then [we're] looking at new types of composite materials for the upper torso material and for the hips and the brief section of the suit."

The new Z-2 will be about 20 pounds lighter than the EMU, "which doesn't seem like much," Aitchison acknowledges. "But again, we're adding in all the capability of the lower torso that we haven't had before."

5. Design starts by playing with old prototypes.

Once the where and the what are figured out, it’s time to get down to designing. The Advanced Space Suit Group has prototypes from the last 30 years of suits, as well as shuttle suits and suits from the Apollo era. “We start by testing those suits and understanding the different features,” Aitchison says. “What type of shoulder works best for what type of activity, different designs of the hips and boots and the style of entry. Do you want to have a zipper? All those things.” Playing with those features allows the engineers to sketch out what parts of different suits would be best for a particular mission.

6. NASA Scientists design the suits, but private companies make them.

Two-dimensional rendering of the "Technology" version of the Z-2 suit. Photo courtesy of NASA/Johnson Space Center.

Testing of the suits, and sketching up the designs, happens in house. But when it comes time to build, NASA turns its designs over to private companies. “We write the requirements and give the general concept of what we want built for us, and we have vendors that will build the suits for us, to the specifications that we write,” Aitchison says. The engineers work on one suit at a time, but since the start of Constellation in 2005, they’ve been getting prototypes every three to five years.

7. Certain parts of the suits are hand sewn.

In the Apollo era, space suits were sewn together by hand. You might think, with advances in technology, that this practice would have gone the way of the dodo, but that's not the case.

A little space suit anatomy: The innermost layer of the space suit, called the bladder—"think of that as basically being the balloon that holds all the air inside of it," Aitchison says—is sealed and welded together by a machine. On top of that is the restraint layer, which gives the bladder strength and structure. "It makes sure [the bladder] bends to that specific location and it takes all of the loads of the suit to protect that bladder from too much force when you bend your elbow or if you put pressure onto it," Aitchison says.

The restraint layer is the part of the suit that's still hand stitched. "There is a room full of sewers with different types of sewing machines, depending on what part of the suit they're stitching, and they can do some very precision sewing by hand," Aitchison says. "Like a 16th of an inch in some places, and they are incredible at that." The sewers use specific types of thread for certain locations, depending on whether they need more strength or elasticity in that section.

8. But they're still cutting edge.

Engineers used 3D human laser scans and 3D-printed hardware to develop and size the Z-2 suit—the first time that's ever been done.

9. Suits are allowed to leak.

But not a lot. According to Aitchison, the whole suit is allowed to leak a maximum of 100 SCCM (standard cubic centimeters per minute). To ensure the suit doesn't leak, and that it's meeting the requirements determined by the designers, its parts are rigorously tested during the fabrication process. Seam allowances are measured with rulers, and samples are purposely destroyed to ensure they meet the required strength characteristics. "[Testers] pull out a machine to see how much force it takes to rip either the seam or the fabric itself," Aitchison says.

When the designers receive the full suit, it, too, undergoes testing. "We do structural and linkage testing, which means we inflate the suit to 1.5 times its regular operating pressure—which is 4.3 PSI when we're doing a space walk—to make sure that it's structurally sound, we're not seeing any windowing at the seams or have any leaks," Aitchison says. "And then after we do the structural [test], we go back down to regular operating pressure and redo the leak check."

10. There are no custom space suits.

It's not cost effective to build one suit for every crewmember. Instead, the suits are constructed using a modular system, which is part of why they're so bulky. "When you have mix and match components, we tend to make it a little bit larger, so that we can fit a wider population of people," Aitchison says. "We have different components—basically small, medium, large sorta fit—so we can mix and match components between different sized crew. That way it helps us with logistics and with redundancy on the space station, too." (Currently, the space station has enough components for four full Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or EMU, suits, as well as a number of replacement parts.) Having a modular system also makes things easier with repairs: If one part breaks, engineers can simply replace the part instead of building a whole new suit.

11. Designers focus on one suit at a time.

Given all the testing and design requirements that go into a suit, it's probably not surprising that engineers take it one suit at a time. "We want to understand what does and doesn't work before we build our next iteration," Aitchison says. From concept to design to prototype to testing, "it takes a long time to build a new suit. It takes over a year." Fabrication on the Z-2 suit will begin this month; it will be completed in August, at which point, testing will begin.

12. Astronauts must don a number of layers before they even put on their suits.

That scene from Gravity where Sandra Bullock pulls off her EMU suit and emerges in nothing but a tank top and her undies? Pure bunk. Real astronauts wear several layers under their suits.

First comes a maximum absorbency garment, or MAG, "which is basically a diaper with extra absorption in it," Aitchison says. "That's your waste management system." Over that are comfort undergarments, form-fitting long johns that keep an astronaut comfortable while he or she is wearing the liquid cooling garment. "It provides skin cooling when you're inside your suit and you're working really hard," Aitchison says. "We don't want you to build up a sweat, so we have cold water running in tubes all over your body that pick up heat from your skin and reject it back out to space."

13. There are ways to make a pressurized suit.

Photo courtesy of MIT

Anyone going into space needs to have pressure on their body to keep it functioning normally; the minimum PSI required for bodily functions like inflating the lungs and keeping the blood flowing is 2.5 PSI. (A little more than that, Aitchison points out, is even better.) To accomplish that, astronauts need either a gas-pressurized suit—which is what NASA uses—or a suit that uses mechanical counter pressure (MCP), like the one developed at MIT (above). "You can kind of think of [MCP] as a very tight wet suit," Aitchison says. "It's got to create the same amount of pressure that we get from the gas around us just by pressing on the skin with the suit itself."

NASA looked at a mechanical pressure suit, developed by Dr. Paul Webb, in the 1970s; it was called the Space Activity Suit. Though it worked very well, it took multiple hours—and the help of several people—to put on. That's not the only drawback to MCP. "The other thing you have to worry about is making sure that you have even pressure across your skin at all different positions," Aitchison says. "Places that are concave, or places that change from being flat to concave—the palms of your hands, the backs of your elbows, the knee, the groin—as you move, the shape of those places change. You need to make sure you develop materials that will stick into those contours and move with the change of shape. So there are a lot of challenges in terms of having the technology that's going to help us do exploration in the next 5 to 10 years. Gas pressurized suits are the way we're going to get there."

14. The Z-2 Will be Pretty Small.

Z-1 Space suit. Photo courtesy of NASA/Johnson Space Center.

It will actually be one of the smallest suits made for exploration. "Previously, on the Z-1, we had the big 13-inch dome," Aitchison says. "That works well for large men, but it doesn't have to be that big for smaller females. So shrinking that shrinks down the rest of the suit too. We looked at the current astronaut population and we tried to design a suit that would fit everyone in the bottom 40 percent in terms of their size." The goal of the Z-2 is to design a suit that will fit everyone from the 5th percentile female and to the 99th percentile male—a huge size range.

15. And you can vote on what it will look like.

Z-2 renderings courtesy of NASA/Johnson Space Center.

NASA's last suit design, the Z-1, looked a little bit like Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear (an accident, according to Aitchison). "There was a lot of talk about it, and we wanted to build on that momentum with this suit just to get people asking questions and wanting to know more about it," Aitchison says. "So we came up with this idea to do a voting website for it."

The engineers worked with fashion students at Philadelphia University to come up with different looks for the suit, which was a very different process than what the engineers were used to. "They definitely take a different approach, coming from a fashion background," Aitchison says. "We had to fill out mood boards with different characteristics, whether it was a patriotic theme or a traditional theme or a science and technology theme. We started out with 12 characteristics and we had to narrow it down to what we thought represented us." Based on that, the engineers and the student designers came up with three concepts: Biomimicry, Technology, and Trends in Society. You can vote for your favorite design here.

For now, the designs are purely aesthetic, but Aitchison can see real-life applications for the bioluminescence in the Biomimicry suit, for example. "When we go to other planetary surfaces, if we're working in environments where we have constant day/night cycles, it might be a cool way to do the crew identifier," she says. "Right now we have fabric stripes along the side and upper arm to indicate who's who to different color stripes for each crew member. [Bioluminescence] could be a unique way to do that that would actually be helpful on a planetary surface."

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12 Things You Might Not Know About MAD Magazine
Mad Magazine
Mad Magazine

As fast as popular culture could erect wholesome depictions of American life in comics, television, or movies, MAD Magazine was there to tear them all down. A near-instant success for EC Comics upon its debut in 1952, the magazine has inspired generations of comedians for its pioneering satirical attitude and tasteful booger jokes. This month, DC Entertainment is relaunching an "all new" MAD, skewering pop culture on a bimonthly basis and in full color. To fill the gaps in your knowledge, take a look at these facts about the Usual Gang of Idiots.

1. NO ONE KNOWS WHO CAME UP WITH ALFRED E. NEUMAN.


Jamie, Flickr (L) // Boston Public Library, Flickr (R) // CC BY 2.0

MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman was in the offices of a Ballantine Books editor discussing reprints for the fledging publication when he noticed a grinning, gap-toothed imbecile staring back at him from a bulletin board. The unnamed figure was ubiquitous in the early 20th century, appearing in everything from dentistry ads to depictions of diseases. A charmed Kurtzman adopted him as MAD’s mascot beginning in 1954. Neuman later become so recognizable that a letter was delivered from New Zealand to MAD’s New York offices without an address: the envelope simply had a drawing of Alfred.  

2. THEY HAD TO APOLOGIZE ALMOST IMMEDIATELY.

MAD was conceived during a particularly sensitive time for the comics industry, with parents and watchdog groups concerned over content. (It didn't switch to a magazine format until issue #24.) Kurtzman usually knew where the line was, but when he was laid up with acute hepatitis in 1952, publisher William Gaines and others had to step in for him. Gaines thought it would be funny to offer a fictional biography of himself that detailed his father’s Communist leanings, his past as a dope dealer “near nursery schools,” and bouts of pyromania. When wholesalers were shocked at the content and threatened to boycott all of his titles, Gaines was forced to write a letter of apology.  

3. THEY PREDICTED JOHN F. KENNEDY'S ELECTION IN 1960.

But it was a cheat. In the run-up to the 1960 Presidential election, MAD printed a cover that featured Neuman congratulating Kennedy on his victory with a caption that read, “We were with you all the way, Jack!” But the issue was shipped long before votes had been tabulated. The secret? It was a dual cover. Flip it over and Neuman is celebrating Richard Nixon’s appointment to office. Stores were told to display the “right” side of the magazine depending on the outcome.

4. ALFRED BRIEFLY HAD A GIRLFRIEND.


MAD Magazine

A character named Moxie Cowznofski was introduced in the late 1950s as a female companion for Alfred. She made only a handful of cover appearances, possibly due to the fact she looked alarmingly like her significant other.

5. THEY DIDN'T RUN ANY (REAL) ADS FOR 44 YEARS.

From the beginning, Gaines felt that printing actual advertisements next to the products they were lampooning would not only dilute their edge but seem more than a little hypocritical. After some back-and-forth, MAD cut ads starting in 1957. The decision was a costly one—most print publications survive on such revenue—but led to the magazine’s keeping a sharp knife against the throat of seductive advertising, including cigarettes. Faced with dwindling circulation in 2001, Mad finally relented and began taking ads to help pay for a switch to color printing.

6. "SPY VS. SPY" WAS CREATED BY A SUSPECTED SPY.

Cuban cartoonist Antonio Prohias was disenchanted with the regime under Fidel Castro when he began working on what would become “Spy vs. Spy.” Because Prohias’ other newspaper illustrations were critical of Castro, the Cuban government suspected him of working for the CIA. He wasn’t, but the perception had him worried harm might come to his co-workers. To get out of the situation, Prohias came to America in 1960. With his daughter helping translate, he stopped by Mad’s New York offices and submitted his work: his sneaky, triangle-headed spies became regulars.

7. THERE WAS ONE FOLD-IN THEY WOULDN'T RUN.

Artist Al Jaffee, now 94, has been with Mad almost from the beginning. He created the famous Fold-In—the back cover that reveals a new picture when doubled over—in 1964 after seeing the fold-outs in magazines like National Geographic, Playboy, and Life. Jaffee has rarely missed an issue since—but editors backtracked on one of Jaffee’s works that referenced a mass shooting in 2013. Citing poor taste, they destroyed over 600,000 copies.  

8. THEIR MOVIE WAS A DISASTER.

With the exception of Fox’s successful sketch series, 1994’s MAD TV, attempts to translate the MAD brand into other media have been underwhelming: a 1974 animated special didn’t even make it on air. But a 1980 film venture, a military school spoof directed by Robert Downey, Sr. titled Mad Presents Up the Academy, was so awful William Gaines demanded to have their name taken off of it. (Renamed Up the Academy, the DVD release of the movie still features someone sporting an Alfred E. Neuman mask; Mad parodied it in a spoof titled “Throw Up the Academy.”)

9. THE APRIL 1974 COVER HAD PEOPLE FLIPPING.


MAD Magazine

MAD has never made a habit of good taste, but a depiction of a raised middle finger for one issue in the mid-’70s caused a huge stir. Many stores wouldn’t stock it for fear of offending customers, and the company ended up accepting an irregular number of returns. Gaines took to his typewriter to write a letter of apology. Again. The relaunched #1, out in April 2018, pays homage to this cover, though it's slightly more tasteful: Neuman is picking his nose with his middle finger.

10. THEY INVENTED A SPORT.

MAD writer Tom Koch was amused by the convoluted rules of sports and attempted to one-up them in 43-Man Squamish, a game he invented for the April 1965 issue. Koch and artist George Woodbridge (“MAD’s Athletic Council”) prepared a guide that was utterly incomprehensible—the field was to have five sides, positions included Deep Brooders and Dummies, “interfering with the Wicket Men” constituted a penalty—but it amused high school and college readers enough to try and mount their own games. (Short on players? Try 2-Man Squamish: “The rules are identical,” Koch wrote, “except the object of the game is to lose.”) For the less physically inclined, Mad also issued a board game in which the goal is to lose all of your money.  

11. WEIRD AL WAS A GUEST EDITOR.

In what must be some kind of fulfilled prophecy, lyrical satirist “Weird” Al Yankovic was named as a guest editor—their first—for the magazine’s May 2015 issue. Yankovic told Entertainment Weekly that MAD had put him on “the dark, twisted path to becoming who I am today … I needed to pollute my mind with that kind of stuff.” In addition to his collaborations with the staff, Yankovic enlisted Patton Oswalt, Seth Green, and Chris Hardwick to contribute.

12. FRED ASTAIRE ONCE DANCED AS ALFRED E. NEUMAN.

In a scene so surreal even MAD’s irreverent editors would have had trouble dreaming it up, Fred Astaire decided to sport an Alfred E. Neuman mask for a dance number in his 1959 television special, Another Evening with Fred Astaire. No one seems to recall why exactly Astaire would do this—he may have just wanted to include a popular cultural reference—but it was no off-the-cuff decision. Astaire hired movie make-up veteran John Chambers (Planet of the Apes) to craft a credible mask of Neuman. The result is … well, kind of disturbing. But it’s a fitting addition to a long tradition of people going completely MAD.

Additional Sources:
Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America.

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10 Tantalizing Tidbits About Star Trek: The Next Generation
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

by Kirsten Howard

When Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted in September 1987, no one was quite sure what to expect. After all, this was a new Enterprise with a new crew trying to revitalize a franchise that had only lasted three seasons the last time it was on television. And while the movie series was still bringing in solid box office returns, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy would play no part in this new Trek.

The Next Generation was a gamble for Paramount, and for the first few seasons, it looked like one the studio was going to lose. But once the series got over some initial behind-the-scenes chaos, it blossomed into one of the most popular sci-fi TV shows of all time. Even as bigger and shinier installments in the franchise continue to come out, this is the definitive Star Trek for countless fans. So lean back in your captain's chair and enjoy 10 facts about Star Trek: The Next Generation.

1. THE SHOW GOT OFF TO A ROCKY START.

Things were tumultuous at best behind the scenes during the first season of the show, as writers and producers clashed with creator Gene Roddenberry over themes, characters, and ideas on a weekly basis. The in-fighting and drama became such a part of the show's legacy that William Shatner himself chronicled all of it in a 2014 documentary called Chaos on the Bridge (which is currently streaming on Netflix). In it, producers, writers, and actors recounted anecdotes about the difficulties they had dealing with Roddenberry's somewhat overbearing mandates, including his infamous rule that there never be any direct conflict between the Enterprise crew members (unless one was possessed by an alien, of course) and his habit of throwing out scripts at the last minute. This led to 30 writers leaving the show within the first season, according to story editor and program consultant David Gerrold.

As Roddenberry’s health began to deteriorate after the first season, his influence over the writers waned, freeing up ideas that were departures from the creator's original vision. He would pass away in 1991, but his presence would never completely leave the series. For years, a small bust of Roddenberry sat on executive producer Rick Berman's desk with a blindfold wrapped over its eyes. "Whenever they come up with a story I don't think Gene would like," Berman said, "I blindfold him when we discuss the story."

2. GENE RODDENBERRY REALLY DIDN’T WANT A BALD CAPTAIN.

'Star Trek' creator Gene Roddenberry
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

For years, William Shatner had cast the mold by which all future Star Trek captains would be judged. And it was that image of the confident, swashbuckling James T. Kirk that Roddenberry wanted to preserve when bringing a new captain in for The Next Generation. So when Berman wanted to cast Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, the issue was clear: he was no Shatner.

Roddenberry was completely unconvinced that Stewart was right for the role, with Berman saying the Trek creator didn’t like the idea of “a bald English guy taking over.” But after countless auditions with other actors, Berman continued to bring Stewart up to Roddenberry, who eventually caved and agreed to bring him in for a final audition under one condition: he wear a wig. So Stewart had a wig Fed-Exed from London and auditioned for Roddenberry and Paramount Television head John Pike one final time. 

That audition was enough to win Roddenberry over, and Stewart was finally brought aboard as Picard with the wig cast aside. Roddenberry would eventually go on to fully embrace Picard’s follicular shortcomings, and according to Stewart, when a reporter at a press conference once asked him why there wouldn’t be a cure for baldness in the 24th century, Roddenberry responded by saying, “No, by the 24th century, no one will care."

3. ONLY ONE PERSON HAS EVER PLAYED HIMSELF IN STAR TREK HISTORY.

Stephen Hawking was visiting the Paramount lot during the video release of the film A Brief History of Time when he requested a tour of the Next Generation set. After making his way onto the iconic Enterprise bridge, he stopped and began typing into his computer. Suddenly, his voice synthesizer spoke: “Would you lift me out of my chair and put me into the captain's seat?"

Hawking asking to be removed from his chair was basically unheard of, so his wishes were granted immediately. Later, with writers having become aware that he was such a huge Trekkie, Hawking himself was written into the sixth season finale episode “Descent – Part I” by Ronald D. Moore, who would later go on to reimagine the Battlestar Galactica universe.

4. A WHOLE EPISODE WAS WRITTEN FOR ROBIN WILLIAMS.

Late actor and comedian Robin Williams was also a huge fan of the show and was desperate to appear in it, so an episode of the fifth season—"A Matter of Time"—was drawn up by Berman to allow Williams to shine at the center of a mystery about Professor Berlinghoff Rasmussen, a time-traveling historian from the future visiting the past to observe the Enterprise crew completing an historic mission.

Unfortunately, when it came time to shoot the episode, Williams found himself unavailable to appear in the episode. So Max Headroom star Matt Frewer was cast as Professor Rasmussen instead.

5. PATRICK STEWART APPROACHED BEING TORTURED ON SCREEN VERY SERIOUSLY.

In the episode “Chain of Command, Part II,” Picard has been captured by Cardassians and is subjected to a variety of torture methods by his interrogators. As a member of the human rights organization Amnesty International, Stewart did not want to shy away from the realities of torture, so he watched tapes sent to him that included statements from people who had been tortured and a long interview with a torturer explaining what it was like to be the one inflicting pain on others. Stewart also insisted on being completely nude during the first torture scene, so as not to betray the experiences of those who had undergone similar horrors.

6. THEY USED SOME PRACTICAL EFFECTS.

The transporter effect on the show may look completely computer generated, but in fact it’s all done quite organically. First, a canister is filled with water and glitter and then a light is shone through it. After stirring the liquid briskly, the resulting few seconds of swirling glitter are filmed and then superimposed over footage of the actor standing in the transporter area, with an added “streak down” effect to blur the glitter further.

7. LORE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A WOMAN.

Android Lieutenant Commander Data had many adventures during the series, on and off the Enterprise, but his evil twin brother, Lore, stands out for many fans as one of the show’s greatest antagonists. Surprisingly, Lore was originally created as a female android character for the show, but the actor who plays Data, Brent Spiner, came up with a different idea: an evil twin nemesis in the shape of a long-lost brother.

8. THERE WAS AN OPEN SUBMISSION POLICY ON SCRIPTS.

When Michael Piller took over as head writer on the show in 1989, an open submission policy was launched where absolutely anyone could submit up to two unsolicited scripts for consideration. Opening up the possibility of writing for TV to people outside of the Writers Guild of America and talent agency pool was unheard of at the time, and over 5000 spec scripts were received a year at one point. "Yesterday’s Enterprise," one of the show’s most popular episodes, was based off a spec script from the open submission policy.

9. SOME SCRIPTS WERE RECYCLED FROM THE SCRAPPED PHASE II.

A still from 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'
Paramount Pictures

A decade before The Next Generation debuted, there was a failed attempt at a revival called Star Trek: Phase II. Though a first season was mapped out, it never saw the light of day, and the movie series was produced in its place. However, the scrapped scripts and concepts lived on in various Trek projects over the years. For the second season premiere of The Next Generation, producers reclaimed the script for "The Child" as a way to get a story quickly into production during the 1988 writer's strike. The season four episode "Devil's Due" was also taken from the backlog of Phase II scripts. 

More elements from Phase II would influence Trek for years, such as the pilot being reworked into Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the now-familiar elements of the Japanese-inspired Klingon culture being introduced in the shelved episode “Kitumba.”

10. THE TRANSPORTER IS THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS.

In what was either a cost-cutting move or a sly Easter egg (or both), the ceiling of the Enterprise's transporter room in The Next Generation is actually the floor of the transporter room from the original series. That's far from the only recycling that went on between the Trek series. The orbital office complex from Star Trek: The Motion Picture was reused as the Regula I station in The Wrath of Khan, which was then itself reused as a number of different space stations on The Next Generation (plus Deep Space Nine and Voyager).

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