|Location||Houston, Texas, United States|
The Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) is an astronaut training facility and neutral buoyancy pool operated by NASA and located at the Sonny Carter Training Facility, near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The NBL's main feature is a large indoor pool of water, in which astronauts may perform simulated EVA tasks in preparation for upcoming missions. Trainees wear suits designed to provide neutral buoyancy to simulate the microgravity that astronauts would experience during spaceflight.
In the late 1980s NASA began to consider replacing its previous neutral-buoyancy training facility, the Weightless Environment Training Facility (WETF). The WETF, located at Johnson Space Center, had been successfully used to train astronauts for numerous missions, but its pool was too small to hold useful mock-ups of space station components of the sorts intended for the mooted Space Station Freedom, or its successor, the International Space Station.
This new pool was going to be on Johnson Space Center property and was planned to be 72 meters (235 ft) by 41 meters (135 ft), with a depth of 18 meters (60 ft). To save money it was downsized and placed inside an existing structure.
The diving tank 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. The NBL contains full-scale mock-ups of International Space Station (ISS) modules and payloads, as well as visiting vehicles such as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) HTV, the European Space Agency ATV, the SpaceX Dragon, and the Orbital Sciences Corporation Cygnus. Full-scale mock-ups of equipment such as the Space Shuttle payload bay and Hubble Space Telescope have been removed, as they are no longer needed for training.