Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Space Travel News  




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















Amid Turtles And Sharks, Astronauts Train For Lunar Mission

This handout from NASA shows flight surgeon Josef F. Schmid(R) and astronaut/aquanaut Jose M. Hernandez working 18 meters(60 feet) below the surface of the ocean to prepare future missions to the Moon.
by Patrick Moser
Aquarius Underwater Laboratory (AFP) May 17, 2007
Surrounded by friendly sharks and curious turtles 18 meters (60 feet) below the surface of the ocean, NASA astronauts are working to prepare future missions to the Moon. Sporting huge, bright yellow helmets and dive suits -- sans fins -- astronaut Jose Hernandez and NASA flight surgeon Josef Schmid took lunar-like slow-motion leaps as they assembled a tubular structure on the ocean floor.

Inside the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory, two robotic arms telecommanded from thousands of kilometers (miles) away performed surgery on a simulated patient.

The undersea venture is part of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Extreme Environment Mission Operations, which study moon-walking techniques, space medicine, and other space exploration activities.

"Ultimately, what we are trying to do is develop operational concepts for lunar missions," said Bill Todd, the project manager for this NEEMO mission, the 12th since 2001.

The team, made up of two astronauts, a flight surgeon, a University of Cincinnati doctor and two technicians, are spending 12 days in their underwater home Aquarius, a coral-encrusted cylinder that looks a lot like a yellow submarine.

Located 5.5 kilometers (3.5 miles) off Key Largo, Florida, the research facility is touted as the world's only underwater laboratory.

The habitat and the surrounding environment are as close as one can get to replicating conditions in space, experts say.

"We classify this as an extreme environment," said Todd of the United Space Alliance, which operates NASA's space shuttle fleet.

The under-water habitat offers the closest thing to space in studying medical issues that could affect astronauts, for instance.

They know that, like in space, latent viruses in the aquanauts' bodies replicate far more rapidly than in Earth's atmosphere.

NASA hopes this and other NEEMO missions at Aquarius will eventually help researchers figure out what causes the potentially debilitating multiplication of viruses in space.

"There's no other place we know of where we'd get this kind of response," said Todd, sporting a mission T-shirt that proclaims: "It's one small fin kick for a man, one giant stride for mankind."

Another goal of the mission is to evaluate the use of tele-robotics in performing emergency surgery on space flights, by simulating operations with the two remotely-controlled surgical robots.

The aquanauts are also looking at a number of issues NASA wants to resolve as it prepares to resume manned flights to the Moon and eventually send man to Mars.

During their "moonwalks," the aquanauts are weighted in such a way as to simulate lunar gravity, which is one-sixth that of Earth. Hernandez and Schmid looked a lot like a lunar team as they took giant leaps sending their tethers floating upward. On a tight timeline, they ran through the sand, pulling, pushing and tipping tubular structures that are part of the lunar construction exercise.

The astronauts also pick up bits of dead coral as they would lunar samples on an exploration of the Moon.

They spend several hours a day on what is known in space talk as Extra Vehicular Activities, and then return to home-under-the-sea through the Aquarius's double lock system.

The module is more cramped than the International Space Station, according to astronauts who have visited both.

The 81-tonne habitat has six bunks, a shower, toilet, microwave, refrigerator and computers linked to the shore base in Key Largo.

Air is provided by an "umbilical cord" that runs from a support buoy moored above the facility.

Just like in space, jumping ship is just not an option.

Because they spend so long under water, the aquanauts' bodies are saturated with nitrogen. Before they return to the surface, the interior pressure of the Aquarius is gradually reduced to surface levels over 17 hours. Skipping the decompression step could be lethal for the team members.

But half way through their May 7-18 stay, the aquanauts did get a surprise that broke a little the tedium of the freeze-dried food consumed in space, when the topside crew delivered a freshly baked pizza in a vacuum-sealed container.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
Aquarius Underwater Laboratory
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News



Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


Using History To Design The Future
Cape Canaveral FL (SPX) May 18, 2007
Visitors to Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently poured into the Saturn V Center and curiously stepped up to a display. They watched as a small group of lab-coated experts surrounded an aluminum box about the size of a file cabinet. The air filled with cautious excitement as the box was slowly unbolted and carefully lowered, exposing the contents for the first time in decades.







  • Orion Ignites The Dreams Of A Rocket Engineer
  • Methane May Allow Rockets To Go Beyond The Fringes Of Space
  • NASA To Build New Stand At Stennis To Test Ares Rocket Engines
  • NAMMO Successfully Launches Hybrid Test Rocket From Andoya

  • Russia And ESA Sign Contract For Four Soyuz Launches From Kourou
  • Ariane 5 Achieves Record Performance With Geostationary Transfer Orbit
  • Ariane 5 Launches Twin GEO Birds
  • Lockheed Martin-Built Astra 1L Satellite Ready For Launch

  • US Shuttle Atlantis Back On Launch Pad
  • Atlantis Is Go For Rollout
  • Shuttle Atlantis To Hit Launchpad Next Week
  • No Launch Delay After Train With Shuttle Booster Derails In US

  • Another Russian Automated Space Truck Docks At Space Station
  • ISS Crew Size Could Be Doubled By 2009
  • Kazakh Cosmonauts To Complete Training By Year End As Another Progress Rolls Out
  • More Progress At Space Station Soon

  • Using History To Design The Future
  • Amid Turtles And Sharks, Astronauts Train For Lunar Mission
  • Industry Leaders Call On Congress To Boost NASA Budget
  • Preventing Sick Spaceships From Killing Spaceman

  • China Approves Five-Year Space Development plan
  • US Said To Block US-China Deal On Asian Satellite Operator
  • Space Peonies Blooming In Heze
  • China Launches Ocean Monitoring Satellite

  • Boeing Orbital Express Completes First Autonomous Free Flight And Capture
  • Robot Teams Handle Hazardous Jobs
  • Mr Roboto
  • Carnegie Mellon Unveils Internet-Controlled Robots Anyone Can Build

  • Seeking Mars Survival Secrets
  • Not Enough Hours In The Day Then Look To Mars
  • Spirit Studies Dust Devils In Concert With The MRO
  • Spirit Examined Light - Colored Material Near Home Plate

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright Space.TV Corporation. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space.TV Corp on any Web page published or hosted by Space.TV Corp. Privacy Statement