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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Water immersion tanks for astronaut training

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Author Topic:   Water immersion tanks for astronaut training
NavyPilot
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Registered: Nov 2015

posted 02-13-2019 07:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NavyPilot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I searched cS and other websites, but I could not find explicit, coherent info on water tank use. This is what I am trying to patch together based on snippets and photo captions:
  • The earliest water training was during Mercury, The Sacred Seven doing scuba diving at the Little Creek Amphib Base outdoor pool on 20 May 1959 and then basic suit immersion exercises off the diving board at the Langley AFB indoor pool sometime in 1960 after the Goodrich Mark IV training suits that they were fitted for in November 1959 had arrived.

  • Early Gemini water recovery development was conducted by project officer Lovell at the NAS Pensacola indoor training pool, and then by Lovell and Gordon Harvey at the tank facility constructed inside Ellington AFB Hangar 135, presumably all in 1963 to prepare for the original plan of late 1963 manned flights.

  • The first three groups got aircraft survival training in November 1964 at the NAS Pensacola indoor training pool, including rides on the Dilbert Dunker (a fun experience, I can say).

  • Egress training for Gemini 3 was conducted at the Ellington AFB Hangar 135 indoor tank, in flight suits during 1964 and in space suits on at least 05 Feb 1965.

  • Egress training for Gemini 4, 6, 8 and 9 was conducted at MSC Building 5, with part the sim building co-opted for tank installation. This Building 5 tank was called the WIF. I can only assume that the balance of Gemini crews also got wet in the Building 5 WIF for egress drills.

  • The first tank training for EVA was Aldrin on Gemini 12 at the McDonogh School indoor pool (which has a fabulous campus BTW).

  • Egress training for Apollo 1 and 2 was conducted at the Ellington AFB outdoor pool, on a very sunny day in June 1966.

  • At some point, presumably during 1967, tank training was transferred to MSC Building 260, which also was called the WIF. Egress training for all remaining Apollo flights through ASTP were staged at the Building 260 WIF.

  • The SIM bay EVA training for Apollo 15, 16 and 17 was conducted during 1970-1972 at the Marshall NBS.

  • The Skylab developmental work by Schweickart, Gibson, Kerwin, Musgrave, Weitz, Carr, Conrad et al, also happened in the Marshall NBS. These began as early as 1968, with von Braun famously taking part in a development dive on 04 September 1968.

  • The restrictions of the NBS during the Skylab work and the desire to conduct training locally at Houston led to the WETF at Building 29, which if Wikipedia is correct actually was constructed much earlier in 1966.

  • With the grander scale of Freedom and then ISS on the horizon, the current NBL was built and christened in early 2002, which apparently has no building number at all (understandable since it is miles from JSC next to Ellington Field).
Does anyone have corroborating or otherwise authoritative information on the use of the various water tanks chronologically with dates and by mission? Thanks!

All times are CT (US)

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