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Field Journal

williams working underwater in NBL

Practicing space walking underwater

by Dave Williams
December 30, l997

Well, here is the first of a two part submission on STS-90 training in the past 2 weeks of December. With all of the preparation for the holidays I did not get a chance to send it off before Christmas. There were many exciting training activities that took place but one of the highlights was our first run in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL), the large swimming pool where we practice our space walking techniques.

On every shuttle mission there are two crew members identified to perform a space walk if there are problems with the payload bay doors, the radiators or the Ku band antenna. Rick Linnehan is EV1 and I will be EV2 with Kay Hire acting as our IVA crew member overseeing the progress of the space walk from the aft flight deck of the shuttle.

maneuvering in the airlock to allow fellow astronaut to attach safety tether to his waistairlock to allow Rick to attach my safety tether to my right waist tetherD ring The first lesson in the series of 4 classes at the NBL, lasted 4 hours and reviewed all of the procedures for manually closing the payload bay doors. I have enclosed a number of digital underwater photos (isn't technology marvellous) showing some of these activities.

The first slide show me maneuvering in the airlock to allow Rick to attach my safety tether to my right waist tether D ring.
safely tethered, williams exits airlock release of tether slider on slider
Once I am safely tethered I can exit the airlock, shown in airlock slide 2, after which we maneuver to release our tether slider on the slide wire that travels the length of the shuttle at the edge of the payload bay. This provides a safe path for each EV crew member to move (translate) along the payload bay of the shuttle.

move to provisions stowage assembly Once we are safely tethered and have removed our sliders, we then move down to the provisions stowage assembly where all of our EVA tools are kept. The next slide shows me working at the PSA loading my tool caddy with all of the necessary tools to perform the task at hand. In this case, I will be performing the power drive unit disconnect. This is a contingency EVA method of disengaging the door drive shaft to allow manual closing of the payload bay doors.

Williams manipulating the winch to manually close payload bay doors The last slide shows me manipulating the winch which is used to manually close the payload bay doors. The long rope of the winch is taken out and attached to the payload bay door allowing us to manually close the doors with little difficulty.

Following completion of our designated tasks the run finished with an airlock ingress procedure and we then were hoisted from the water. Rick and I enjoyed the class immensely and look forward to our next opportunity to "get in the suit"


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