If you are a space nut like me, you have undoubtedly heard of NASA’s gigantic pool, the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. This pool acts as an astronaut training center where Astronouts can suit up and experience an almost weightless like state. While it isn’t exactly the same feeling they would get in space, it is apparently pretty darn close.
The principle of neutral buoyancy is used to simulate the weightless environment of space. First the suited astronauts or equipment is lowered into the pool using an overhead crane. Once this is done the suited astronauts weighted in the water by support divers so that they experience minimal buoyant force and minimal rotational moment about their center of mass. The suits worn in the NBL are down-rated from fully flight-rated EMU suits like those in use on the space shuttle and International Space Station.
The NBL tank itself is 202 feet (62 m) in length, 102 feet (31 m) wide, and 40 feet 6 inches (12.34 m) deep, and contains 6.2 million gallons (23.5 million litres) of water. Divers breathe nitrox while working in the tank.
Here are a series of pictures of the pool, along with how the pool is actually used. If you’re not impressed with this, I can’t imagine what it will take to impress you.