Members of the USNAAA Gulf Coast Chapter participated in a 4-hour, behind-the-scenes, VIP tour of the Johnson Space Center as Invited Guests of the Center Director.
The tour started at Building 4S, with a welcome aboard briefing and video presented by Steve Bowen, USNA ’86.
The next stop was at the Sonny Carter Training Facility to tour the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. There were 2 astronaut candidates underwater, receiving their initial training in extra-vehicular activities EVA. The NBL training is just one of many training exercises that the candidates must successfully complete in order to become fully qualified astronauts. The NBL is a large indoor swimming pool containing full scale mock-ups of various modules of the International Space Station. The pool is 202 feet long, 102 feet wide and 40 feet deep. Underwater training in a simulated EVA suit provides the best on-earth simulation of microgravity operations.
The following stop was at the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility. The tour guide was Daniel Nelson, USNA ’75. The tour group was allowed to enter many of the full scale mockups to better grasp the reach, visibility and tactile operations of spaceflight vehicle and experiments. The SVMF consists of ISS, Orion, Commercial vehicle mockups, part-task trainers and rack interfaces, a Precision Air Bearing Floor, and a Partial Gravity Simulator. The ISS mockups include the U.S. Lab, Nodes, Permanent Multipurpose Module, Joint Airlock, medium-fidelity mockups of the Russian Service Module, SOYUZ, FGB, and several other ISS International Partner modules.
The last stop was at the Mission Control Center. The group was granted access to the VIP viewing room to observe real-time Mission Control of the International Space Station and engaged in a detailed Q&A with the tour guide.
Tour attendees included: Rich Bulger, Rick Bush, Jim Davis, Ed Klein, Carl Inskeep, Tim Wilson, Julius Taylor, LaShaundra Collins and Anna Haschert.