October 27, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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How NASA is preparing astronauts for the next moonwalks

Washington, September 27 (IANS): As NASA plans to bring humans back to the moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis program, the agency has already begun preparing astronauts for the challenges they will face on the lunar surface.

The training involves doing underwater work in specially built giant pools and using various analog environments to mimic lunar conditions.

As part of a series of tests at the Neutral Biology Lab (NBL) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, astronauts in the demonstration version of the exploration space suite and engineers imitate the various tasks that crews can perform on “hard hat” dive equipment. The surface of the moon, NASA says.

“This initial test will help determine the best facilities for hardware development and future Artemis training and mission requirements,” said Darren Welsh, Extra Vehicle Activity Test Lead for this Artemis preparation test run.

“At the same time, we are able to gather valuable feedback on spacewalk tools and approaches that can help convey certain goals for missions.”

The NBL is 202 feet long, 102 feet wide and 40 feet deep (20 feet and 20 feet below the ground) and holds 6.2 million gallons of water.

The astronauts are practicing a variety of tasks, including taking samples of the lunar regolith, examining the lunar lander, and planting an American flag.

Teams must consider and work on a number of basic factors, such as how staff can safely climb the ladder, how to safely climb ing, and how to handle successful moonwalks in different lighting conditions than the Apollo-era moonwalks. .

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These tests tell future mission planning how many spacewalks should be performed during a mission, how long they will last, and how far crew will travel to the lander.

Although NASA has extensive experience building astronauts for spacecraft in microgravity to build and maintain the International Space Station over the past 20 years, preparing for moon missions comes with a variety of challenges.

“We can assess equipment in the lab or on the rockyard, but you can learn a lot when you have to keep a stressful space suit and work within the limits of its mobility,” Welsh said.

“These NBL runs are invaluable in understanding the human performance component and ensuring that our astronauts are as safe as possible.”

In addition to testing in the NBL, teams are using different analog environments to simulate lunar conditions.

Tests are taking place at Johnson’s Rockyard, a large, open – field test site that mimics the typical features of lunar surface terrain, with NASA saying the Rockyard test is a critical analog environment for space walk instrument development and operations.