Neutral Buoyancy Lab NASA | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

Neutral Buoyancy Lab NASA | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD


Coming up next on Jonathan Bird’s Blue World,
Jonathan goes to inner space at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab, where astronauts are trained. Hi, I’m Jonathan Bird and welcome to my world! Blue World takes me on adventures all over
the planet. Today’s adventure takes me to the Johnson Space Center at NASA, in Houston,
Texas! And, I’m standing on the International Space
Station! Well, not exactly. I’m standing on an underwater
full size replica of the International Space Station in a gigantic indoor swimming pool.
Here they train astronauts to work in zero gravity by simulating these conditions underwater. Outside, it just looks like a huge warehouse,
but inside is the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory: The NBL. I arrive early in the morning and meet Daniel
Sedej, the facility manager, who has arranged our visit. We drag all our gear inside and get our first
glimpse of the NBL. This thing is huge—a swimming pool nearly the size of a football
field! As we arrive, the morning mission briefing
is just starting. The entire team, from astronauts to support divers to technicians, are all
given a thorough run-through on the training exercises for the day. And Cameraman Tim and
I are part of this meeting, because they are going to let us dive in the NBL today with
the astronauts! Our morning starts with a quick checkup. All
divers in the NBL must pass a rigorous physical, and a checkup before the dive. Cameraman Tim
and I are no exception. We pass our checkup, and next we meet up with
Sara Williams, the Dive Training Officer who gives us a dive safety briefing. What to do
and what not to do in
the NBL. Just as we finish our briefing, the team is
gathering on the deck to begin preparations for putting the astronauts in the water. Getting into a space suit is no easy feat.
In fact, it might be easier in the zero gravity of orbit. But here on land, it takes assistance. The astronauts wear liquid-cooled underwear
to keep them from overheating. That’s what these tubes are for. The torso of the suit is clamped to a cage
because its too heavy to lift. That’s because this space suit is specially modified for
underwater use, and has a lot of lead weight in it. Climbing into the torso is a little tricky. It takes nearly an hour to suit up. The last thing to go on is the helmet. Underwater, a high-oxygen blend of air will
be fed to the astronauts through their umbilicals. Meanwhile, the safety divers are in the water
getting ready. They wear double scuba tanks so they have enough air to stay down as long
as necessary to complete the mission. Tim and I are getting ready too. I can’t
wait to see this enormous underwater facility! I descend into the clearest water I have ever
seen, and it looks like an underwater movie set! The pool is a staggering 40 feet deep,
and everywhere I look are full-size replica sections of the International Space Station. I take a few minutes to explore the pool.
I can see from one end to the other very clearly, meaning that the underwater visibility is
over 200 feet! I could spend a few hours just swimming around down here. It’s like a playground
for divers, with all sorts of great structures to swim through! For the astronauts–now, the moment of truth.
A crane lifts them into the pool, wearing 300 pounds of space suit apiece. Underwater, the safety divers meet them and
carefully remove them from the platform. Each astronaut is carefully weighted to be precisely
neutrally buoyant. (Hey, they don’t call it the Neutral Buoyancy Lab for nothing!)
Once weighted properly, the astronauts hover in the water as if floating in the weightlessness
of space. Since fins don’t work in space, the astronauts
don’t get to wear them here. They must be moved from task to task by the divers. The
divers are also responsible for keeping a careful eye on everything happening. Each
astronaut has 4 divers assigned to him or her. Two are safety divers. Another has a
camera with a cable going to the control room. And there are more cameras mounted all over
the inside of the pool too. In the Test Director room overlooking the
pool, 21 monitors keep the staff informed of everything that happens below. They oversee
the safety of the operation. If anything were to go wrong, the divers can
get the astronaut to the surface in only seconds. In the Test Conductor room, another team is
conducting the training run. The test conductor and team speak directly to the astronauts
through communication gear in their helmets. But powerful underwater speakers allow the
divers to hear everything that is being said, even if they can’t talk back. The point of all this effort is to provide
a learning environment for astronauts where they can practice tasks over and over in simulated
zero gravity, before they are required to do it by themselves in space. Tasks that are easy on land become much harder
in zero gravity. And harder still while wearing a space suit that has to be able to protect
an astronaut from the vacuum of space. A space suit is designed to have more pressure
on the inside than on the outside, since it’s effectively inflated like a balloon in space.
Here in the NBL, that pressure is backwards. Water is definitely not a vacuum. In order
to keep the water pressure from squishing the astronauts as they go deeper, the suits
are inflated to a pressure just a few PSI higher than the surrounding water. When an astronaut goes deeper into the pool,
the water pressure pushes in on the suit and tries to compress it, so the suit is given
more internal pressure to keep it inflated correctly. As the astronaut ascends towards
the surface, the air inside the suit expands and tries to overinflate the suit, so some
of the air is released. In this way, the suit always stays inflated just as it would be
in space. After a couple hours of training, the divers
move one of the astronauts over to the platform and remove her glove. This training exercise
simulates a suit failure, and it’s one of the things that astronauts practice underwater.
The continuous flow of bubbles from the sleeve shows the regulator in the suit attempting
to maintain positive pressure. Soon, the astronaut is lifted from the water
after a successful training mission. Tim and I head back to the surface too. That is the coolest swimming pool ever! Later, I have the opportunity to meet Ron
Garan, a real astronaut. He has spent nearly half a year in space, and more than 27 hours
spacewalking. So you know what I had to ask him. JONATHAN: You gotta tell me what it’s like
to be in space. RON: What’s it like to be in space? Well,
it’s a lot like being in the pool here….the only difference is, when you turn upside down
in the pool, you feel upside down. When you turn upside-down in space, there is no upside
down, so you don’t have that sensation of blood rushing to your head. And you can’t
beat the view. JONATHAN: Yeah, I guess that’s true, huh?
What did you do here, that helped you as an astronaut? RON: Well, what we do here is we train for
our space walks. There’s two ways to look at it. When we were flying the shuttle, we
had very specific, very choreographed space walks. And so for every hour that we spent
outside in the vaccum of space, we spent about 7 hours underwater, making sure that we knew
exactly how things were going to be. There’s a full scale mockup as you guys saw of the
space station down there. So just to know how to get around, know the lay of the land,
know how the equipment works. But nowadays, since we don’t have the space shuttles, what
we’re really traning for is if something breaks. If we have a piece of equipment that breaks,
then we have to go out, sometimes in a fairly expeditious manner, to fix the equipment.
And we never know what’s going to break beforehand, so we have to kind of train a skill set to
learn the basic skills on how to fix anything that can go wrong outside. I spend an hour chatting with Ron about being
an astronaut, and training underwater in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. I explain that I’m a
perfect choice to join the space program, I mean after all, I’m already good at working
in zero gravity. But I don’t think he was convinced. So, instead of joining the space
program, the Blue World team ended our exciting day by getting our picture taken with Ron.
Sometimes my adventures in the Blue World take me to fascinating places I’ll never forget.

100 thoughts on “Neutral Buoyancy Lab NASA | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

  1. "Vacuums" are easy. Getting crushed under oceans of water is what sucks. ;''3

    Indeed, the true "final frontier" still remains the bottoms of the seas, which would also help with conquests of space if one can find ways to create Sustainable and Renewable "artificial" ecosystems to live in.

  2. i feel like this is super dangerous, what if a wire breaks or the water is shocked, everyone in the water could be hurt very badly

  3. They should make Killer Whales aquariums this big at Sea World instead of cramming them into small tanks and making them do tricks for our entertainment. I wonder how many times a year NASA uses this pool?

  4. Hi Blue world how are you Diving used to be one of my biggest dreams when I grow up I want to become a diver

  5. Why don't any of the support divers use rebreathers or an umbilical system? Is it really more beneficial to use tanks? And is there any decompression for the time they spend in the pool?

  6. Reading "An astronaut's guide to life on earth"by chris hadfield and in the mean time watching this video……
    I can't forget this mesmerizing moment……
    Thanks Jonathan bird🙏

  7. Shouldn’t they make little water jets on their packs to maneuver themselves like astronauts in space use little spurts of gas to move?

  8. I went scuba diving in my pool today! It was awesome! But it was nothing compared to this! I wish I could do this, LOL!

  9. Hang on a sec, I need to go get a glass of water! For some reason this video made me really thirsty! Probably because the crystal blue water looks so good! I wish I could do this! LOL!

  10. Very cool pool. Thanks to ‘Blue Wilderness’ and ‘Brave Wilderness’ for your new subscriber. I followed you over to check out your channel and thumbs up all the way.

  11. Biggest pool in the US. What a job to have… and 300 people standing around getting the diver ready. More tax dollars………how much clorine per year….

  12. At 6:52 you can see advert playing on the bottom right monitor. Odd how these people are suppose to be supervising but they have that on the monitor.

  13. Hi I'm Jonathan Bird and welcome to my world brings that little Joyce smile on my face. Jonathan Bird videos are always very informative and I just love this man. You are as amazing as NASA designed that amazing gaint deep swimming pool for training astronaut to do space walking..a brilliant video I've ever seen.

  14. Johnathan I need help cuz every time I try to go deep under water I try to clear my ears and it only clears my right ear not my left is there a trick to clear bolth of them?

  15. Should have signed your name on the wall inside somewhere desecrate so you could later see your name on the NASA official ISS videos on the "real" ISS in space. Disgusting that our media is so corrupt they allow this obvious farce to go one.

  16. I have been watching your videos every night Mr. Jonathan! You and your crew are awesome! Thank you so much for the great content! Love from Philippines 🇵🇭

  17. Good evening blue world 🌎.. 👮👮👮👲👲👲😍😍😍🌟👍👌👈🐋🐬🐉🐡🐚 wow your working nice

  18. I actually got a personal tour of the NBL this year after traveling to Houston to go compete in the HUNCH competition

  19. At the 6:50 minutes point of the video. The screen at the bottom left of the screen room has a commercial playing on it.

  20. I wonder if, one day, divers will have helmets like Astronauts have; with communication equipment and such that’d probably make a lot of things easier.

  21. Can I go scuba diving with you that would be a dream come true
    You are my favorite YouTuber I have never been diving before but I only have $60 so I can’t go scuba diving thank you for reading this just please give me a chance

  22. I was a staff writer for a dive magazine years ago and approached nasa about doing an article on this facility I was shot down from being able to enter the pool for the purposes of photography..I was told I had to complete a special physical before I could possibly gain entry..The pool is 40 feet!!!..I guess its who you know…

  23. I know it was a process and an incurred cost as well..I enjoyed your peice..Well done…safe diving..

  24. 6:51 lol more like watch TV shows, instead of what's going on. There's three monitors playing something on cable TV.

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