How does NASA train it’s astronauts for spacewalks on the International Space Station? Mainly, in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. The question often comes up, and this week it was coming from TheChive.com asking “does NASA really need the largest indoor body of water in the world to help train our astronauts?”
Author Lee Hutchinson details a day in the life at the NBL, and provides a unique behind-the-scenes look into all the work that goes into making a successful training event happen. From SCUBA divers to crane technicians to the astronauts themselves, this article is a must-read!
A great post by Robert Zimmerman that discusses the 2007 Solar Array Wing repair spacewalk by STS-120 astronauts Scott Parazynski and Doug Wheelock. More importantly, it stressed the point that “things will break” in space, and crews “will have no choice but to know how to maintain and repair their vessels…”
I recommend reading the entire post, but here are a few excerpts, emphasis mine:
ISS is presently our only testbed for studying these kinds of engineering questions. And in 2007, a spectacular failure, combined with an epic spacewalk, gave engineers at the Johnson Space Center a marvelous opportunity to study these very issues.
The results were quite unexpected: The guide wire had broken because it had been hit by a tiny piece of space junk, melting and splitting the wire but damaging nothing else.
Like the sailors of old, space travelers will need to able to repair and even rebuild their spaceships, wherever they are. Any interplanetary spaceship design has got to factor this reality into its design.
For more details about the spacewalk, I’d recommend the following articles:
- Realtime coverage of Russian EVA-30; William Harwood – CBS News
- 2 Russian Cosmonauts Move Space Station Crane in 6-Hour Spacewalk; Tariq Malik – SPACE.com
- Two Russian cosmonauts complete ISS walk; James Dean – Florida Today
In this video, NASA Spacewalk Officer Glenda Brown talks about the tasks the crew will be performing and goes into some detail about the differences between the US and Russian spacewalk process, including:
- Spacewalk task and tools
- Training philosophy
- Prebreathe protocols
- Spacewalk preparations
If you have any questions for Glenda or myself on any of these topics, leave a comment and I’ll post a Q&A in the future.
Today, Increment 30 Commander Dan Burbank shared the first-ever handshake in space between a human and a humanoid robot, known as Robonaut.
Today on ISS, Robonaut consists of a head, upper torso, arms, and hands and is only capable of performing activities inside the vehicle (known as “IV” to the spacewalk community). Future plans include outfitting Robonaut with a leg-type structure and giving it capabilities to work on the exterior of ISS.
Currently, astronauts doing a spacewalk spend a large amount of time with worksite setup and hardware transfer. With the help of Robonaut, a larger portion of the limited time an astronaut spends doing a spacewalk can be focused on the specific tasks at-hand.