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Take a Tour of the Spacewalk Virtual Reality Training Lab

Today's spacewalk marks the last spacewalk of the shuttle era. Kris Gutierrez shows you how our astronauts train for such walks. Gutierrez reports from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, home to the largest indoor swimming pool called the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in the Sonny Carter Training Center. This 202 foot long, 40 foot deep swimming pool which holds 6.2 million gallons of water, is just one tool the astronauts use to train for the spacewalks. “The other,” Gutierrez says, “is a virtual reality lab.”

Gutierrez, who got his chance to train as the astronauts would, said,

“It looks and feels like you’re playing a video game. High tech glasses and special gloves transmit what I see to a video monitor where instructors watch my every move.”

Mike Massimino, a veteran spacewalker, shows Gutierrez what this “video game” is all about. Massimino says, “This [the lab] is really important because it gives us an idea of what it’s going to look like [and] how we’re going to communicate to each other.” He explains that all practicing must happen on earth, because when the astronauts get into space, it’s game time.

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