Astronauts had to swim before they could walk.
- By Rebecca Maksel
- AirSpaceMag.com, August 11, 2009
“Watching the Gemini 9 EVA from Mission Control convinced me that I’d better be well prepared for the space walks I was to perform on the Gemini 12,” Buzz Aldrin wrote in his 1989 memoir, Men From Earth. “I had a lot of respect for Gene [Cernan] and thought he could have done better had he had different training. In fact, after Gemini 9, Gene joined me in a series of underwater training sessions in a pool near Baltimore to prepare for the Gemini 12 mission. (He was on our backup crew.) I was an experienced scuba diver before beginning this ‘neutral buoyancy’ training. It seemed to me that practicing underwater was better preparation for an astronaut’s weightless EVA than with the wire-and-pulley training gadgets that came and went in Houston, but never really worked.
“Soon my underwater training became quite elaborate. I wore a carefully ballasted EVA suit to completely neutralize my buoyancy and closely approximate zero G. Eventually I mastered the intricate ballet of weightlessness.”
Here, astronaut Buzz Aldrin carries out underwater training in October 1966 at the McDonough School For Boys in Baltimore. The pool contained a full-size mockup of Gemini’s equipment section.