During underwater training exercises, astronauts wear special suits designed to provide neutral buoyancy
Practicing EVA tasks
The pool at the Water Immersion Facility had a diameter of 25 feet and a depth of 16 feet. The current facility, the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, boasts a pool that is 202 by 102 feet with a depth of 40 feet.
This unedited footage from Houston's KPRC-TV captures astronaut training exercises at the Water Immersion Facility at NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center. After donning a special suit, the astronaut enters the pool to perform simulated extravehicular activity tasks around a submerged Gemini spacecraft. Astronauts trained underwater to simulate the weightlessness of space travel. NASA used the Water Immersion Facility for both the Gemini and Apollo programs before constructing a larger pool in 1980.
As the scope of the American space program grew, NASA's Space Task Group realized it would need to expand into its own facility if it were to successfully land a man on the Moon. In 1961, the agency's selection team chose a 1,000-acre cow pasture in Houston, Texas, as the proposed center's location site, owing to its access to water transport and commercial jet service, moderate climate, and proximity to Rice University. In September 1963, the facility opened as the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC).
The Center became the focal point of NASA's manned spaceflight program, developing spacecraft for Projects Gemini and Apollo, selecting and training astronauts, and operating the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. Beginning with Gemini 4 in June 1965, MSC's Mission Control Center also took over flight control duties from the Mercury Control Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As a result, the facility managed all subsequent manned space missions, including those related to Projects Gemini and Apollo, the Apollo Applications Program, the Space Shuttle Orbiters, and the International Space Station.
In 1973, the MSC was renamed in honor of the late President and Texas native Lyndon B. Johnson. (As Senate Majority Leader, Johnson sponsored the 1958 legislation that established NASA.) The Center continues to lead NASA's efforts in space exploration, training both American and international astronauts, managing missions to and from the International Space Station, and operating scientific and medical research programs.