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  Origins of underwater spacewalk training

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Author Topic:   Origins of underwater spacewalk training
John Charles
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From: Houston, Texas, USA
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posted 07-03-2007 06:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A few months ago, several exchanges with KC Stoever re-awakened my long-dormant curiosity about the earliest history of underwater neutral buoyancy in developing extra- and intravehicular activities, techniques and procedures for weightless spaceflight, and for training astronauts in those techniques.

My spare-time research has taken me as far as Google and my personal library can go, and visits to archives are next. But I am also interested in any insights and anecdotes that my fellow cSers might have about underwater simulations of weightlessness, especially before 1978.

I don't want to bias your responses, but if the words "McDonogh" or "Aquarama" have special meaning for you in this context, or if you know anything about water immersion facilities at Lockheed-Martin, McDonnell-Douglas, Langley or Ames, and especially Lincoln Beach, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Lou Chinal
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posted 07-03-2007 08:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is my understanding that the underwater training started with Scott Carpenter and John Glenn. They thought scuba diving would be the closest to the space environmental system. They talked everyone else into it. Including Deke Slayton, who didn't know how to swim prior to Mercury.

spacecraft films
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posted 07-03-2007 08:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The first really meaningful underwater EVA training was Buzz Aldrin for Gemini 12. It was at a Baltimore pool, I think at a school.

Note that I say really meaningful EVA underwater training. There was lots of underwater stuff before but this was when it was really applied to EVA.

FFrench
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posted 07-03-2007 11:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's a subject we mention in the Gemini chapters of our forthcoming book, "In the Shadow of the Moon," in particular, the chapter "The Ballet of Weightlessness."

It's interesting how many of those key players commonly assumed to be the originators say "not me" when asked if it was their idea. McDonogh is mentioned, as is Langley, Baltimore businessmen - and Carpenter, Lovell, Aldrin and others give opinions on how the idea was conceived and developed.

Matt T
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posted 07-04-2007 04:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA Contractor Reports are a gold mine for this sort of research, as they usually include very thorough bibliographies. Below are some titles from the bibliography of a 1967 neutral buoyancy EVA report, I'm guessing that even if you can't locate these publications you might get some leads from them.
  • Beckman, E.L., K.R. Coburn, et al "Some Physiological Changes Observed In Human Subjects During Zero G Simulation By Immersion in Water Up to Neck Level." Naval Air Development Center, Johnsville, Pa. Rept. NO. NADC MA 6107. AD 256 727, 1961.

  • Benson, V.G., E.L. Beckman, et al 'Weightlessness Simulation By Total Body Immersion. Physiological Effects." Naval Air Development Center, Johnsville, Pa. Report No. NADC-MA-6134. AD-263 194, 1961.

  • Campbell, P.A. and S. J. Gerathewohl "The Present Status of the Problems of Weightlessness." Texas State Journal of Medicine 55(4):267-274, April 1959.

  • Diringshofen von, H. "Immersion in Water as a Partial Simulator of Weightlessness in Space Medicine." Archiv fur Physikalische Therapie (Leipzig), 14(4): 307-31 1, July-August 1962. (Germany)

  • Ferguson, John C. and Randall M. Chambers "Psychological Aspects of Water Immersion Studies" Report No. 7. Naval Air Development Center, Johnskille, Pa., Aviation Medical Acceleration Lab. 30 Dec 1963, 28p. (NADC-MA-6328; AD-429523). N64-15755.

  • Gerathewohl, S.J., "Zero-G Devices and Weightlessness Simulators". National Academy o f Sciences, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. Publication No. 781, 1961.

  • Hammer, Lois R., "Aeronautical Systems Division Studies in Weightlessness: 1959-1960". Aerospace Medical Laboratory, Aeronautical Systems Division, W-P Air Force Base, Ohio. December 1961. (Proj. 7184; Task 71595). WADD TR 60-715. AD 273098.

  • Marton, T., Hunt, R., Klaus, T., Cording, C.R., "Neutral Buoyancy Submersion for the Analysis of Human Performance in Zero G," Valley Forge Space Technology Center, General Electric Co., Philadelphia, Pa. Presented at AlAA meeting October 11-13, 1965, St. Louis, Missouri. Study conducted with scuba gear, console display and control.

  • Pierce, B.F. and E.L. Casco, "Crew Transfer in Zero G as Simulated by Water Immersion". General Dynamics/Astronautics, San Diego California, 15 April 1964, GDA-ERR-AN-502.

  • Trout, O. F. Jr., "A Water Immersion Technique for the Study of Mobility of a Pressure-Suited Subject under Balanced-Gravity Contitions," NASA Langley Research Center, Langley Station, Hampton, Va. NASA TN 0-3054, January 1966.

  • Wolf, R.L., "The Use of Full Pressure Suits for Underwater Studies to Simulate Weightlessness." California, 1 April 1964, CDA-ERR-AM-495. General Dynamics/Astronautics, San Diego

  • Loftus, J. P. and L. R. Hammer, "Weightlessness and Performance: A Review of The Literature," Aerospace Medical Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, June 1961, ASD TR-61-166.
    The implications of weightlessness as encountered in space flight are discussed, and the known research dealing with the psychological and physiological effects of zero gravity is critically reviewed.

    An extensive bibliography is included. Immersion techniques are discussed in the section devoted to Methods of Research, page 5-6, and a review of immersion studies reported in the literature published prior to April 1961 is presented in the section devoted to Physiological Functions, page 21-22.

This is just a small sampling, but it seems to point towards the aerospace medicine community as the origin of an interest in water immersion for purposes of zero-G simulation. The synopses of the above titles (not copied here to keep this post to less than ten screens) appear to suggest that at these early stages water immersion's applicability to EVA training doesn't seem to be a consideration. It's value appears to be as a simulation method for providing physiological data for prolonged zero-G exposure.

However, given that many of the facilities that appear at this early stage are instrumental in the later EVA related work it certainly suggests a common origin. Maybe this incremental change in function away from physiological studies to EVA simulation would explain the reluctance of any one individual to take the credit?

John Charles
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From: Houston, Texas, USA
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posted 07-04-2007 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for going to all the trouble of listing those references. I have some already, but certainly not all of them. In particular, I don't yet seem to have the 1967 contractor report that lists them. Can you tell me which report that is?

FFrench
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From: San Diego
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posted 07-04-2007 01:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by John: chagrined that you are, once again, several steps ahead of me.

I would not go that far. We only touch on this area as part of a much wider story, concentrating more on the impressions and experiences of each of the astronauts who made the EVAs. So there is not a huge amount of detail and digging. The more detailed and specific research in this field needs to be done and I, for one, am very glad you are doing so.

Matt T
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posted 07-04-2007 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Study of astronaut capabilities to perform extravehicular maintenance and assembly functions in weightless conditions. The bibliography runs to just over 30 pages - happy hunting.

John Charles
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From: Houston, Texas, USA
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posted 07-09-2007 09:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lou Chinal:
It is my understanding that the underwater training started with Scott Carpenter and John Glenn. They thought scuba diving would be the closest to the space environmental system.
My information places the Mercury water survival training in May 1960. According to "For Spacious Skies", it was a full course in water survival taught by the instructors of Underwater Demolition Team (UDT)-21 of Langley Field, home of the Mercury astronauts.

Question: Can someone confirm that it did indeed include scuba training? (Seems obvious, if it was UDT...)

Then, 10-14 April 1967, the astronaut corps spent a week at Navy scuba school in Key West, because (according to Mike Collins in "Carrying the Fire") "ballasted underwater training was becoming a popular substitute for the short-duration parabolas of the zero-g airplane".

Question: Does anyone know which astronauts were there? LIFE magazine and other sources show Armstrong, Collins, Cunningham, Eisele and Worden. (The photos in LIFE of May 19,1967, don't show other astronauts clearly enough for me to identify them.) Probably not there: Borman, McDivitt, Schirra, Shepard and Slayton (testifying to Congress on April 10) plus at least one unidentified astronaut who was in a geology seminar in Houston on April 10. Did Aldrin and Cernan go, or were they already scuba-qualified, possibly in connection with their water-tank EVA simulations in 1966?

As always, any knowledgeable insights will be appreciated.

KC Stoever
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posted 07-09-2007 11:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh, good! I have photographs of the UDT training ca 1959.

KC Stoever
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posted 07-30-2007 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John, am readying that package of NASA neutral buoyancy and EVA files for you but thought to share the text of an Aug. 24, 1966, Robert R. Gilruth letter here:
Mr. A. W. Robinson, Manager
Advanced Requirements Planning Operation
Missile and Space Division
General Electric Company
Post Office Box 8555
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19101

Dear Mr. Robinson:

With reference to your letter of July 29, thank you very much for the briefing and for your generous offer of the use of your facilities and equipment to look at possible Gemini XI and Gemini XII EVA problems in neutrally bouyant state.

I regret that Astronauts Cernan and White will be unable to evaluate your facilities and equipment in the immediate future due to the heavy demands of their assigned tasks. Astronaut Cernan has recently made an underwater evaluation of the problems he encountered on Gemini IX in a tank at Randallstown, Maryland, during a current program being done for the Manned Spacecraft Center by the Environmental Research Associates Company. The EVA portions of the Gemini XI and Gemini XII missions are also being studied by our astronauts and NASA engineers at Randallstown.

Perhaps in the near future the schedules of some of our EVA astronauts will permit them to make an evaluation of your neutrally bouyant facilities and equipment. I agree that such an evaluation would be mutually beneficial.

The Manned Spacecraft Center is presently procuring a tank for reduced gravity simulation work, which should be in operation prior to the end of this year. An exchange of information on modes of suit operation, methods of ballasting, communications systems, etc., would, I am sure, prove helpful to both our organizations.

In this connection, Astronaut Scott Carpenter will visit you in the latter part of September. I understand you have had direct correspondence with him to arrange his visit. He is assisting with equipment requirements on our submergence facility, and I am sure that his vast underwater experience will prove valuable during his forthcoming visit.

Sincerely yours,
/s/
Robert R. Gilruth
Director

HLJ /initials/ [Harold Johnson?]
WJN /initials/ [Warren North]
DKS /initials/ [Deke Slayton]

CC:
EA/M. A. Faget
DA/C. A. Berry

It's my understanding that the Fort Worth NARA offices (Southwest Region) has the largest cache of these memos and letters. Good luck with your research.

John Charles
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posted 07-30-2007 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
KC, this is a very illuminating letter! Thanks for sharing it, and for all of your help and encouragement. As always, I hope I can reciprocate someday.

KC Stoever
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posted 07-30-2007 03:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You're welcome, John.

And here: I just located a March 20, 1967 memo about the Key West training referenced upthread. That's about where the documentary trail ends for me -- spring 1967.

There's some on the specifications, though, for the Neutral Bouyancy Simulator in Building No. 5, Project No. 72-6704. Lots of concern about the risk during training of death/injury from air embolism.

CB/All Astronauts

CF32/Training Officer

Basic SCUBA training

A basic SCUBA training course has been set up at the Naval Swimmers Underwater School at Key West, Florida. This training is for the new crews and all other crewmembers that have not received this training in the past or feel the need of a refresher. This course is being given in preparation for underwater mission training. The course is 1 week duration starting April 3, 1967, or April 10, 1967. Please notify me which week you will be attending as soon as possible.

Raymond G. Zedekar

cc:
CF/W. J. North
CF3/C. H. Woodling
CF32/H. A. Kuehnel
CF23/L. G. Richard

[with concurring initials at the base of the memo.]

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-04-2013 08:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Reviving this old thread to share this article from The Space Review penned by G. Sam Mattingly, one of the founders of Environmental Research Associates (ERA), with John Charles.
I was fortunate to be present at the beginning of underwater simulation of EVA, as one of the founders and the senior partner in Environmental Research Associates (ERA). My good friend Harry Loats was the other founder and Chief Scientist. ERA was a small research firm that became a pioneer in neutral buoyancy simulation of EVA almost by accident.

The EVA connection came about in part because ERA had interested NASA Langley Research Center in a study of seals for airlocks as applied to a space station concept under study at Langley in 1963–1964...

Rusty B
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posted 02-04-2013 10:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty B   Click Here to Email Rusty B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Newspaper pictures of Boeing underwater EVA testing from late 1964 (scroll down for text or up for photo):
  • AP Wirephoto: Saskatoon Star-Phoenix - Dec 26, 1964
    A GOOD MEDIUM for testing conditions out in space has been discovered right in a swimming pool. In the picture, a Boeing researcher maneuvers under water in a space suit as part of project OGER (zero gravity effects research) in Seattle, Wash.
  • UPI Telephoto: The Deseret News - Dec 17, 1964
    A Boeing research worker maneuvers underwater in a space suit similar to the kind future which future astronauts may wear. The man and his equipment are weightless underwater, a condition similar to zero-gravity encountered in outer space. The Boeing project at Seattle, Wash., is part of Project OGER, Zero Gravity Effects Research.
  • Gadsden Times - Jan 3, 1965
    Wearing a space suit similar to the kind future astronauts may wear, a research worker tries to maneuver underwater at the Boeing research center in Seattle, Wash., as part of Project OGER -- Zero Gravity Effects Research. The man and his equipment are weightless underwater, the same as in outer space.

Rusty B
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posted 02-04-2013 11:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty B   Click Here to Email Rusty B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found a more extensive description of the above photo (picture of space suited Boeing engineer conducting under water zero gravity tests) from the Glasgow, Scotland Evening Times - Jan 16, 1965:

This is how an astronaut may look as he maneuvers in a spacecraft while in orbit or on future trips to the moon. The Boeing Company researcher isn't floating in space, however, but is carrying out an experiment underwater in a zero-gravity condition.

The man and his equipment are what is called neutrally buoyant -- a condition similar to the weightlessness astronauts will experience in space.

The underwater studies now being carried out in America provide one answer to the problem of testing a space vehicle -- short of an actual orbital flight -- to see if the design meets the needs of the men who will operate it under weightless conditions in space.

Boeing's water test chamber is 15-ft deep, 19-ft long, and 14-ft wide. The chamber is the main research facility of Project OGER (0-Gravity Effects Research), and is big enough to handle mockups of many proposed space vehicles.

Rusty B
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From: Sacramento, CA
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posted 02-05-2013 01:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty B   Click Here to Email Rusty B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
...this article from The Space Review penned by G. Sam Mattingly, one of the founders of Environmental Research Associates (ERA), with John Charles.
A Water-Immersion Technique For The Study Of Mobility Of A Pressure-Suited Subject Under Balanced-Gravity Conditions

by Otto F. Trout, Jr. Harry L. Loats, Jr., and G. Samuel Mattingly
Langley Research Center
Langley Station, Hampton, Va.
January 1966

Rusty B
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From: Sacramento, CA
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posted 02-05-2013 01:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty B   Click Here to Email Rusty B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
  • Accession Number: AD0623163
  • Title: Weightlessness Simulation Using Water Immersion Techniques: An Annotated Bibliography
  • Corporate Author: Lockheed Missiles and Space Co Inc Sunnyvale Ca
  • Personal Author(s): Abbott, Helen M.; Duddy, John H.
  • Report Date: JUL 1965
  • Pagination or Media Count : 55
  • Abstract: The compilation contains 97 selected references pertaining to biomedical and behavioral research involving immersion of human subjects. The references are organized under three principal topics: (1) Physiological Studies, including acceleration, impact protection and physiological responses to weightlessness simulations, (2) Human Engineering Studies, and (3) Techniques and Personal Equipment Requirements for immersion studies. The references are arranged alphabetically by author or title under each separate topic. An Author Index is included as an aid in locating specific investigators and publications. The references cited are considered to be the principal contributions to the literature during the period from 1951 through 1965, including both open and government sources.

carmelo
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posted 02-05-2013 05:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are some pictures of Scott Carpenter in Gemini suit during the first underwater EVA training in 1966?

Kocmoc
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posted 02-14-2013 01:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kocmoc   Click Here to Email Kocmoc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is consistent with the McDonogh School thread. Actually located in Owings Mills (Randallstown adjacent), Mcdonogh was a military boarding school at the time and was one of the few independent schools in the Baltimore area with an indoor pool.
quote:
Originally posted by KC Stoever:
...thought to share the text of an Aug. 24, 1966, Robert R. Gilruth letter here:
...Astronaut Cernan has recently made an underwater evaluation of the problems he encountered on Gemini IX in a tank at Randallstown, Maryland, during a current program being done for the Manned Spacecraft Center by the Environmental Research Associates Company. The EVA portions of the Gemini XI and Gemini XII missions are also being studied by our astronauts and NASA engineers at Randallstown.

------------------
Cathleen S. Lewis

All times are CT (US)

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