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BEHIND THE SCENES | Planning | Training | Engineering | Processing | Research | Meet the People

Behind the ScenesTrainingSonny Carter Training Facility

IMAGE: STS-111 Mission Specialist Franklin Chang-Diaz suits up.

Crew trainer Joe Cambiaso, right, watches as STS-111 Pilot Paul Lockhart helps Mission Specialist Franklin Chang-Díaz into his EMU suit prior to a spacewalk practice run in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. Visit the Gallery for more images.

"THANKS TO ALL of the members of the NBL who made it possible for us to learn all of the techniques in the water tank for EVA activities in space."

-- Astronaut Franklin Chang-Díaz, Ph.D.,
at the crew-return ceremony
of STS-111, June 21, 2002

"Thanks" may seem a routine remark. However, when it comes from an astronaut who has completed a spacewalk, it is a sentiment cherished by the entire team at the Sonny Carter Training Facility, known as the SCTF.

Much work goes on behind the scenes at the SCTF, which is near NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, to ensure success in space. The supporting cast at the SCTF works diligently, setting the stage for astronauts to perform well-orchestrated spacewalks.

People and Facilities

A visit to the big pool is an eye-opening experience, but there is more to the SCTF than the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, or NBL.

People of the NBL
Several teams of dedicated professionals keep the high-tech facilities humming, providing years of knowledge and hands-on experience to make the best use of every training run.
Meet the People: Gavin Giere

What is Neutral Buoyancy?
While neutral buoyancy is not the same as weightlessness, astronauts training for spacewalks declare that practicing in the NBL is the next best thing to zero-g.

Who was Sonny Carter?
The SCTF was dedicated in memory of M.L. "Sonny" Carter, a pioneer in modern spacewalking techniques and a beloved member of the NASA astronaut corps.

NBL Fast Facts
How long does it take to cycle the contents of a pool containing 22.7 million liters (6.2 million gallons) of water?

Space Station Extravehicular Activity
Engineers and astronauts use the SCTF to prepare for the challenges of constructing and maintaining the International Space Station.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 05/30/2003
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