NASA Moon mission: NASA Astronauts Prepare For the Moon in a big water tank
NASA astronauts have to meet a long list of criteria before the space agency decides they are fit to carry out important duties in space. Astronauts on the moon mission will be met with challenges that few space travelers have ever endured when astronauts return to the Moon in the near future and NASA wants to make sure that they are ready for a life on another world.
NASA, in their new blog post, highlights one of the tools at its disposal for preparing NASA’s future Moon explorers at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab located at the Johnson Space Center. In a big water tank, NASA astronauts experience simulated low-gravity, and astronauts wear much more than your average swimmer.
When it comes to simulating the low gravity here on Earth, our options are very much limited. NASA’s big water lab is about as good as it gets, and while it is not exactly a one to one simulation of the Moon’s low-gravity environment, it is close enough that NASA’s moon mission astronauts get a good idea of the challenges that await them when they arrive on the lunar surface.
“NASA astronauts wear weighted vests and backpacks to simulate walking on the Moon, which has one-sixth the gravity of Earth. Astronauts Drew Feustel and Don Pettit are among those training in the massive pool, which is used primarily to train astronauts for spacewalks aboard the International Space Station.”
An entire team of divers helps in the simulated exercises by NASA for its astronauts and the astronauts are equipped with boots and gloves that match closely with what they will be wearing during Moonwalks on the lunar surface.
NASA is now expecting to have crewed missions ready for travel to the Moon as soon as 2024. The NASA mission’s launch date, which was mandated by the Trump administration, shortened the timeline for a return to the Moon dramatically, and there are still plenty of experts who believe that NASA will fall short of the goal and will have to push things back a bit.
In any case, the astronauts chosen for the NASA moon missions will be ready for the Moon whenever the rockets are ready to fly to the moon.