Cosmonautics Day was celebrated last Sunday in Russia — 59 years ago, the first human flew into the space. It is well known that astronauts are training a lot, and physical exercises in zero gravity environment are very important. Zero gravity is the usual environment for astronauts, but how to prepare for this being on Earth?
Oddly enough, the solution to the problem was quite simple. Conditions as close as possible to zero gravity are perfectly simulated by ordinary water. To do that, a hydrolaboratory was built at the Cosmonaut Training Center named after Iurii Gagarin in 1980. Since then, the astronauts have spent more than 65,000 hours of training, and those who later traveled to real space agreed: the feelings coincide at least 95%.
This hydrolaboratory is a complex hydraulic structure with a whole range of technological equipment, special systems and mechanisms. The most of the hydrolaboratory building is occupied by a huge reservoir: 23 m in diameter and about 12 m depth. Five thousand tons of water at a temperature of about 30 degrees!
A movable platform with carrying capacity of 40 tons was installed inside the pool. It bears fixed layout models of Russian segment of the International Space Station, Soyuz TMA spacecraft and other station equipment. Since work under water can be dangerous, astronauts in spacesuits are accompanied by scuba divers in light diving equipment.
Diving under water creates conditions very similar to zero gravity environment. There is even a special term for that — neutral buoyancy. In this neutral buoyancy, future astronauts learn to work in open space and study the external structure of the International Space Station modules. Various equipment is tested here as well.