Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory: Astronauts from the Pool to Spacewalks

Track: 
Facility Management
Speaker(s): 
Time: 
Thursday, October 19, 2017 -
10:00am to 10:50am

NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) is one of the world’s largest indoor pools that can support multiple large scale operations utilizing both underwater and topside assets simultaneously. The NBL ‘s pool, measuring 202 ft (61.5 m) long by 102 ft (31.1 m) wide and 40 ft (12.2 m) deep, is outfitted with full-sized mock-ups of the International Space Station, including working model of the robotic arm. Its volume is 6.2 million gallons, chlorinated fresh water and maintains a water temperature of 84-86 F (28.9-30 C).The NBL is utilized for mission planning, procedure development, hardware verification, astronaut training, and refinement of time-critical operations necessary to ensure mission success during spacewalks. The facility is also used for commercial applications such as Subsea Oil and Gas working ROV trainings, Off-shore Safety & Survival Training, Underwater Systems: AUVs, ROVs, ADSs, Underwater Testing: Systems Tests, Integration Tests, Commercial Space: Mockup Support, Ground Tests, and Orion Spacecraft Recovery Training. All of this has to be strategically programmed using multiple areas such as safety divers, camera divers, topside crews and test directors ensuring that all customer needs are met.

This session will discuss how a facility of this size is able to have multiple foreign objects in the pool keeping perfectly balanced water while using a turnover rate of only 18 hours. We will discuss the design of the facility and how we were able to meet the challenging requirements that were above a standard indoor aquatic facility and how the daily operations of the facility are programmed and managed. This session will give you a behind the scenes look at one of NASA’s most vital facilities, how we train our Astronaut’s from the pool to spacewalks and view some actual hardware that is used to perform these spacewalks. Feel free to ask questions in the Q&A session.