New England Aquarium invited Sunita Williams, a 49-year-old astronaut who holds the world’s best record of a total spacewalk time for a woman, to take an unusual dive in the park’s largest water tank and speak to the public about the life in space and NASA’s astronaut training methods.
Williams performed seven spacewalks and spent a total spacewalk time of 50 hours and 40 minutes. You will be able to hear her speaking at the New England Aquarium on Thursday. She will also take a dive in her spacesuit in the park’s Giant Ocean Tank.
Sunita is accustomed with underwater environments since she had spent nine straight days in a deep-sea research station in Florida. Moreover, she was trained underwater on various occasions by NASA before going in space missions.
NASA usually trains astronauts in deep water tanks because water is the most convenient way of simulating zero gravity conditions here on Earth, the aquarium explained in a resent statement.
The space agency has a facility called the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) in Houston, Texas, about a 20-minute-drive from its Johnson Space Center. There astronauts take 40-feet-deep dives on a daily basis to get accustomed with zero-G conditions.
But ISS astronauts take the most strenuous training sessions. They need to stay underwater six hours to eight hours and try to perform a wide range of tasks. That’s because on the ISS they need to know to do a little bit of everything in case their colleagues suffer an accident or something else happens.
ISS astronauts are assisted during their underwater training by four professional divers. One helps them with camera, other one helps them with instruments while two of them make sure that all safety measures are taken, and they are ready to intervene in case of emergency.
Williams is scheduled to take the dive at 9 a.m., she will deliver a speech minutes later, and engage in a Q&A session afterward.
On the same day, at 14:00, Sue Curley, a NASA spacesuit specialist, will present the public the differences between an astronaut suit and a diver’s equipment and she will also make a live presentation in the aquarium.
New England Aquarium also announced that NASA’s Destination Station will arrive at its Harbor View Terrace, which is outside the aquarium. Destination Station is a mobile exhibit designed to educate the public about the U.S. space agency’s achievements and the International Space Station’s operations. NASA’s Destination Station has traveled in more than a dozen states since its official release date in 2011.
The exhibit will have free access and will stay open from 9 through 15:00.
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