Posted: Sunday, September 24, 2006
The 11th NEEMO mission to date ended today with "splashup" at about 8:45 am, concluding another safe and successful mission. All mission objectives were accomplished, the crew is healthy, and we are another step closer to successfully returning people to explore the lunar surface.
This has been a busy time at NASA with human exploration extending from inner to outer space. Last week we had a record 4 separate vehicles in space at once (the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle, a Progress resupply vehicle, and a Soyuz crew transfer vehicle). Yesterday the Space Shuttle Atlantis landed after a successful mission which resumed assembly on the International Space Station. And yesterday the NEEMO and ISS crews were able to conduct a ship-to-ship video linkup. Former NEEMO 1 crewmember Michael Lopez-Alegria and NEEMO 3 crew commander Jeff Williams are currently on the ISS doing a crew handover and were able to participate, along with some of their other crewmates. This marks the first time we've had 2 NEEMO alumni in orbit at once, and was a nice opportunity for them to swap stories with the current crew.
We want to take this opportunity to thank our hosts here at the National Undersea Research Center. They have helped forge a solid partnership between NASA and NOAA to the benefit of both agencies. Their professionalism and commitment to safety is second to none. They take great care of the nation's only undersea research facility, they keep a close eye on our crewmembers, and they take great care of our Topside team and visitors. So to the habitat technicians, Roger Garcia and Larry Ward - a hearty "thank you" for teaching our crewmembers how to live as aquanauts. To Mark Hulsbeck, thanks for the training you contributed prior to the mission. To Craig Cooper and Jim Buckley, thanks for managing this (and all) NEEMO mission so professionally. This is the only undersea research facility in the world because you guys ensure that it can be safe and operational every day of the year. And for the rest of the Aquarius staff who potted daily, manned the watchdesk 24/7, and did it all with a smile, we can't thank you enough. Finally, special and sincere thanks to NURC Associate Director Otto Rutten for being our host and boat captain for the last 2 weeks. It wouldn't have been possible without you all.
We can't properly thank everyone who had a hand in making this mission successful, but a few key entities should be noted:
Stay tuned for NEEMO 12, a 12-day mission focused on telesurgery and Lunar exploration concepts. It is scheduled for May 2007.
Thanks for your support and following along!
- NEEMO 11 Topside Team
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