Status Report

NASA NEEMO 9 CDR Dave Williams Training Week Journal Monday, March 27, 2006

By SpaceRef Editor
April 8, 2006
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NASA NEEMO 9 CDR Dave Williams Training Week Journal Monday, March 27, 2006

This morning we woke up at 6:30 as we adjust to the new time zone. After breakfast there were introductions of all of the NURC staff, the topside team and the crew. As in the case of spaceflight, there is a large pyramid of support to enable the crew to perform our mission and we are grateful for everyone’s tremendous effort on our behalf.

The first dive training started after the introductions as Ross Hein gave us an overview of the technical diving rig that we will be using during the mission. Because going to the surface is not an option in saturation diving as it is in regular SCUBA diving, the equipment has a number of important safety features. We wear two 100 cu ft aluminum cylinders on our backs (larger than those used in regular SCUBA diving) that have inflatable wings surrounding the tanks to enable us to maintain neutral buoyancy in the water. Despite wearing 6mm thick wetsuits, we do not need a weight belt as both tanks together weigh around 150 pounds. The tanks are joined together by a common manifold for the air we breathe and we can isolate one tank from another in the event of a leak. We have two regulators in case one fails and we can also isolate the point at which the regulator attaches to the tank if the regulator starts to leak.

The NURC team has done an outstanding job in putting together this system to ensure our safety. After the briefing we went for our swim test — 400 yards in 12 minutes followed by swimming 25 yards underwater. We practiced in water rescue breathing and had to tread water for 10 minutes. We moved quickly in the brisk wind to get back to practicing putting on our diving gear and running through some simulated emergencies.

After lunch, we boarded a NURC boat, the Research Diver, which took us out to the training area by the habitat. The 30-minute boat ride went well with two-foot waves bouncing us around. On our way out, we saw a pod of dolphins which started following the boat and leaping out of the waves. What a great way to start the mission!! After donning our gear on the rocking boat, we “splashed” into the water to start our first training dive of the mission. We swam down to the white bottom in turquoise blue clear waters and settled on the bottom to demonstrate our ability to remove our masks, buddy breathe – sharing air with each other, make ourselves neutrally buoyant and perform the isolation drills we had done earlier in the morning. We followed the excursion lines from the training area to the habitat and back to where we started, giving us the opportunity to see lobsters, eels, eagle rays and a number of fish. The 50-minute dive ended too quickly and we returned to base excited at the prospects for 2 more dives tomorrow.

SpaceRef staff editor.