An intense training week for the 10th NEEMO mission has concluded successfully with our crewmembers graduating from "Aquanaut Candidate" status to being officially signed off to start the mission today, Saturday July 22. They successfully "splashed down" at 10:21 am to start their 7-day mission aboard Aquarius, the only operational undersea research habitat in the world. The Mission Commander is Koichi Wakata, a veteran JAXA (Japanese Aerospace eXploration Agency) astronaut, accompanied by NASA astronaut crewmates Karen Nyberg and Drew Feustel. Karen Kohanowich, Deputy Director of NOAA's (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Undersea Research Program joins them. Mark Hulsbeck and Dominic Landucci, both professional aquanauts from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, round out the crew and will operate the Aquarius and oversee safety during the mission.
NEEMO 10 is sponsored by the Constellation Program at NASA. The Constellation Program is responsible for taking NASA back to the Moon and on to Mars. The primary objectives support investigating facets of operations critical to returning to the lunar surface, with some investigation of working on Mars as well. We will use undersea extravehicular activities imitating moonwalks to test concepts for mobility, using weighted backpacks to simulate lunar and Martian gravity. Techniques for communication, navigation and using remote-controlled robots on the moon's surface also will be tested. The NEEMO Project Lead is Bill Todd, with a supporting cast of: Mission Director Marc Reagan, Monika Schultz, Dan Sedej, Kristen Painting, Alex Moore, Kimi Parker and Kristen Todd from JSC.
The crew had a very busy day today, which included 2 orientation dives, safety briefings on their new home, driving the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and getting all of their gear unpacked, set up, and stowed. Previous crews have compared the pace of the day to their first hours on space missions. These activities went smoothly – a testimony to the preparation the crew and support team put into this mission.
- NEEMO 10 Topside Team