Underwater Facility Is Commercially Afloat
IS NEGOTIATING AN AGREEMENT FOR a Houston, Texas, firm to operate
the deactivated Neutral Buoyancy Simulator facility at the Marshall
Space Flight Center. The purpose of the facility is to provide a
unique, controlled simulation environment for underwater research,
development and training for commercial applications.
The firm, Oceaneering Space Systems, is an advanced applied technology
company that provides engineering services and hardware to customers
who operate in marine, space and other harsh environments. Oceaneering's
services and products are often combined to offer complete project
solutions and are marketed worldwide to oil and gas companies, government
agencies and firms in the telecommunications, aerospace and civil
engineering, and construction industries.
The question of commercial viability of the facilitya 75-foot-diameter,
40-foot-deep water tank that holds 1.3 million gallons of waterhad
been raised prior to and since its July 1, 1997, closing. NASA's
requirements are now accommodated at a new, larger tank at the Johnson
Space Center in Houston.
From 1968 to 1997, NASA performed a wide range of operations in
the facility to develop, test and refine techniques and hardware
for use in space. The facility provided NASA engineers, scientists
and astronauts the closest simulation available on Earth of the
low-gravity environment of space. By attaching a system of floats
and lead weights to people and objects, engineers simulated weightlessness
by making a subject "neutrally buoyant"neither sinking
The Neutral Buoyancy Simulator facility has supported a number
of successful space missions. It was designated a National Historic
Landmark in 1985, in recognition of its important role in support
of the U.S. space program. The simulator was used to evaluate techniques
for assembling the International Space Station and to test the Hubble
Space Telescope. It also helped in developing procedures that saved
Skylab after the spacecraft suffered damage to its sunshield during
launch in 1973.
In response to a congressional and Agency request, Marshall issued
an announcement seeking industry commercialization plans in December
1997. The agreement calls for the facility to operate at no cost
to the government.
For more information, contact Rip Nabors at Marshall Space Flight
Call: 256/544-0688, Fax: 256/544-3151, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please mention you read about it in Innovation.
deactivated, Marshall's Neutral Buoyancy Simulator, used to prepare
for on-orbit Hubble Space Telescope operations, is being set up
for commercial use.