At the University of
Maryland’s Space Systems Laboratory, the Neutral
Buoyancy Research Facility (NBRF) provides a unique
alternative to testing at the NASA Johnson NBL. EVA
simulation research at the NBRF is currently conducted
using teams of scuba divers. A combination of the
neutral buoyancy environment, high fidelity hardware
mockups, and realistic communication systems can make
these simulations very accurate in many respects except
for one main area – the replication of the space suit
restrictions and limitations.
The inability to dive without the simulation of a
pressure suit has been identified as an undesirable
condition at neutral buoyancy facilities worldwide.
Perhaps the most significant attempt to fill this void
is the European wet suit prototype designed and
manufactured to provide a low cost, moderate-fidelity,
emulation of the Russian Orlan suit for neutral buoyancy
The MX-series takes a step
farther to not only replicate the most critical pressure
suit characteristics, but to provide a suit that also
presents a low cost, versatile test bed for neutral
buoyancy EVA research.