Post taken from an email by Sean:
Last week, two coworkers and I went to NASA to benchmark a certification our company is working towards. Our NASA hosts were most gracious and took us on a tour of the facility that most outsiders never get to see. We were able to meet three of the seven Astronaut crew members who are training for the last ever scheduled Shuttle launch in February, 2011. Sadly, the President is essentially canceling the Space Shuttle program. This decision means that the US Astronauts we spoke to may be the last Astronauts to ever ride the Space Shuttle.
We visited the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL)......the closest thing on earth to zero gravity training.......the pool is 40 feet deep and over 70 yards long and holds over 60 million gallons of water along with a mockup of the Shuttle and International Space Station............The Astronaut waiving to me in one pic is Mike Fincke; a former F-16 pilot in the Air Force. He had been underwater training for 6 hours!!! In another pic, I’m holding a type of torque wrench valued at over $100,000. We also got to see their food lab and other labs were their suits and helmets are tailored and retrofitted.
I was humbled to meet these brilliant and brave Astronauts and their dedicated support crews.
For All Mankind,