Crews at Survival Systems USA in Groton train to simulate astronauts going outside of the International Space Station

New London

GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — An underwater mission with quite a few challenges.

“We’re in there and the panel’s positioned upside down,” said Aaron Persad, a research scientist at MIT.

Persad is working with the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences which is at Survival Systems USA in Groton to simulate the weightlessness of a spacewalk.

In the pool is an airlock system and a large truss to help with the simulation.

“As we move, we have to tether because if you lose your grip, you float off into space,” explained Persad, who was taking part in the underwater training which will help in the development of EVA or extravehicular suits worn by astronauts who are on the moon or making repairs to the International Space station.

“All the while we have to manage all of these things,” Persad said. “The screws that can float away.”

This training is done in dry suits so they can safely experience what astronauts encounter and make sure the logistics and communications are working correctly.

“So we can take the next step and actually be able to commit somebody underwater in a spacesuit,” said Dr. Jason Reimuller, Executive Director of the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences.

They’re also testing IVA or intravehicular suits worn inside a rocket or capsule to keep astronauts safe under extreme pressures.

In one test, the person wearing an IVA suit is dropped in the pool to simulate if an astronaut has to make a quick exit from a capsule.

“Does that suit function?” questions Reimuller. “Is it stable in water? Can someone safely get into a raft?

Survival Systems USA helps train people for a variety of survival skills. But this is unique.

“It’s crazy even standing here with the Quest from… the airlock from the International Space Station sitting behind me, it still doesn’t feel real,” said Keith Wille, Development Manager for Survival Systems USA.

The newest piece of training equipment at the Groton company is outside. It’s a 28-foot tall tower that is used to train technicians who build and maintain offshore wind turbines.

Changing with the times in an ever-changing world. They hope some things stay the same.

“Astronauts have historically served our society to inspire a next generation,” Reimuller said.

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