The University of Maryland Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility opened on August 21, 1992. Funded by NASA, the NBRF is one of a handful of similar facilities in the world, dedicated to using the underwater environment to simulate the weightlessness of space.
The Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility is built around a 50 ft. diameter, 25 ft. deep fiberglass tank. It holds 367,000 gallons of water, specially filtered and treated for clarity and heated to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This tank is used in conjuction with educational activities and sponsored research in the Space Systems Laboratory, most of which involve compressed gas ("scuba") diving.
The purpose of this document is to specify the policies, requirements, and procedures to ensure safe diving operations in the Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility. It is based on 40 years of NASA experience in neutral buoyancy operations, and 20 years of direct Space Systems Laboratory research in the underwater environment.
Research and scientific diving at the University of Maryland is under the auspices of the Diving Control Board, as directed by the University of Maryland Diving Safety Manual and implemented by the UMd Diving Safety Officer. Since neutral buoyancy diving, particularly in some specialized aspects of space simulation, is uniquely different from classic research diving, this document supercedes the UMd Diving Safety Manual to list the specific policies and procedures for the Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility.