Status Report

NASA NEEMO 9 CDR Dave Williams Training Week Journal Thursday, March 30, 2006

By SpaceRef Editor
April 8, 2006
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NASA NEEMO 9 CDR Dave Williams Training Week Journal Thursday, March 30, 2006

The fatigue is beginning to build and I slept right through to the wake-up call at 7 a.m. We had watched the launch of the expedition crew last night before we went to bed and it brought back memories of flying on STS-90. There may be a possibility that we will get a chance to talk to Jeff Williams and Bill McArthur in space from Aquarius and we are very excited about the potential opportunity. There was more time for breakfast and other activities today before we started our briefings at 8:30. Otter started by giving us a virtual tour of Aquarius which is available online (

We talked about all of the different Aquarius systems throughout the habitat and discussed a number of guidelines for living in the habitat. After a quick break Otter continued the briefing with a review of all of the habitat emergency procedures. He gave us a great overview of what gets done if there is a loss of air supply, loss of environmental control unit, loss of electrical power, or fire and smoke within the habitat. As in the case of spacecraft, the habitat systems have a history of being reliable and have a lot of built-in redundancy to ensure continuity of life support capability in the event of an emergency. With two dives planned for the afternoon, we did not have much time for a break as we got our dive gear together while grabbing a quick bite to eat.

By 11:45 we were on our way to Aquarius to dive with our new communications masks and become more familiar with the excursion lines around the habitat. We departed the dive boat by the northeast mooring and swam down to the gazebo that is at the end of the northeast excursion line. The gazebo looked like a large inverted barrel positioned above a platform with windows in both sides. Two at a time, we swam onto the platform and stood up in the gazebo with our shoulders and head in air and the rest of our body in the water. It was an interesting experience talking to one another and looking out the windows into the ocean while standing on the bottom at 60 feet!! The gazebos have a communications link back to the habitat and a fill port for us to fill our SCUBA tanks.

We practiced using the high pressure fill port and left the gazebo to buddy breathe with the communications masks while we swam towards the habitat. The communication masks enclose both your face and mouth and the regulator has an oval pod attached to it that enables it to be clipped in front of your mouth. With normal use, the space in front of your mouth is clear of water and you can swim, talk and breathe – all at the same time!! To buddy breathe, we hand the regulator back and forth to each other but don’t clip the pod to the mask. Once at the habitat we practiced more air sharing drills and finished the dive after 55 minutes. We surfaced to debrief the first dive and give ourselves enough time to get rid of the excess nitrogen in our blood before starting our second dive to practice using the communication masks. With the masks turned on, we used the push-to-talk switch to talk to each other. It was much easier to hear the other person if you are not breathing, but you can’t hold your breath forever so we started speaking by calling the other person’s name three times to get their attention. Otter gave us a tour of different excursion lines and we went into the wet porch of Aquarius to chat.

We finished the dive after 36 minutes to avoid decompression while surfacing. After a short debrief we returned to NURC and had 30 minutes to get changed, wash our equipment and get ready for our next briefing on the diving helmet. This fiberglass helmet is similar in many ways to the helmet of a spacesuit and enables us to breathe air from an umbilical supply and have communications back to Aquarius. Instead of swimming, we will walk around the bottom in the helmet using enough weight to simulate the one-sixth gravitational environment of the Moon. Tomorrow we will get to practice with them!

SpaceRef staff editor.