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Your Captions: Just Hanging Around

Posted on Fri, October 28, 2016
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In this black and white image, a man is suspended from an apparatus while using his hands to handle a device.

A man is suspended in OMEGA, a device designed around a parallel pair of 81-centimeter-diameter thin-line angular-contact bearings with half the balls removed to minimize friction.

File this next photo from our “Caption This” series under bizarre work-place duties. The captions you submitted were spot on.

  • I thought the circus would be easier.
  • This is the last time I buy furniture from Ikea!
  • What are you doing this weekend, "Oh I'm just hanging around."
  • Well no wonder. I've got the instructions upside down.
  • Cirque du Soleil in "Spaaaaace"
  • Oops, I thought the ship would stay and the thrusters would come off.
  • This is what I get for telling them I played Peter Pan in college!
  • Lose three inches off your waist in just one hour!
  • Does this harness make my butt look big?

And for exciting the #AVGeek in us this one gets especially high marks: “The boss said I had to do something about my attitude.”

The truth is this man is no circus performer, he’s a test subject. In 1966-1967, NASA Langley developed OMEGA (One-Man Extravehicular Gimbal Arrangement). OMEGA was created to simulate weightlessness and permitted its tester unlimited movement. Tests were conducted using OMEGA with subjects in flight suits and pressure suits to determine the best operation techniques and refinements to the device.

In a paper presented in 1966 to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, A.W. Vogeley wrote:

Langley is conducting in-house and contract studies of extravehicular activities wherein zero gravity is simulated by water-immersion technique . . . Water immersion is a very useful technique when motions are slow. When more rapid motion is require, as in studying one-man propulsion systems, other approaches are required.

OMEGA was one approach, along with other systems like it. The below pictures from NASA suggest that a number of systems and techniques were explored. It’s unlikely, however, that any of them truly competed with neutral buoyancy training or reduced-gravity aircraft (aircraft that can create brief moments of near weightlessness).

Man is attached to a device that hangs him above the ground.

Man is propped up on a device that helps to simulate weightlessness.

Man hangs upside down in a weightless simulator.