Commercial crew astronauts are rehearsing their movements in space for when they launch on Boeing and SpaceX missions to the International Space Station. Astronauts Suni Williams (above) and Mike Hopkins (below left) recently practiced spacewalking in the Virtual Reality Lab at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The training is designed to be as realistic as possible, with real time graphics and motion simulators to replicate the space environment.
NASA uses virtual reality for spacewalk training. The astronauts see a virtual representation of the space station through their goggles and are able to practice moving around on its exterior, without the drag that they would experience from the water in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, NASA’s enormous swimming pool where astronauts practice spacewalking underwater. They can practice maneuvering safely back to the space station as well as plotting paths from worksite to worksite.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with Boeing and SpaceX to return human spaceflight launches to the United States in 2019. Williams is assigned to Boeing’s first operational mission after the company’s test flight with crew. Hopkins is assigned to SpaceX’s first operational mission after the company’s test flight with crew.