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NEEMO 9 CDR Dave Williams
Training Week Journal

.JSC2006E12378 - NEEMO 9 Team Image above: Crew members and the support team for the ninth NASA NEEMO mission take a break from training to pose for a picture. Credit: NASA

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

 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 14
"Scuttle bunny was flying around the reef at quite a pace with test pilot Ron at the controls."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 13
"But what a sight after we turned off our lights. Bioluminescent creatures ... lit up the sea around us."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 12
"We're sitting at the galley table writing our journals and as usual we're distracted by the beauty out the galley view port."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 11
"As the sun began to set in the world above, I swam into the wet porch feeling very much a resident of the reef."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 10
"It was pretty exciting to me to be here living and working on Aquarius on the 25th anniversary of STS-1."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 9
"As I write this a large sea turtle just decided to park its belly on our main view port (where I'm presently sitting)."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 8
"This marks the first time in human history an entire robotic surgical platform was transported to an extreme environment ... and was manipulated successfully from afar."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 7
"There is nothing quite like the transition from a warm bed to a cold wetsuit to wake you up in the morning!"
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 6
"The EEG net leaves a particularly attractive series of marks on the subject's head-- looks like we have been kissed by an octopus."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 5
"It's ... incredible to watch the sunset from 47 feet beneath the surface."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 4
"Today was a day filled with outreach events, both 'educational' (to school children) and 'public affairs' (to media)."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 3
"One of the highlights of the day was our videoconference with Jeff Williams and Bill McArthur on the International Space Station."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 2
"Today at 10:38 a.m. Ron Garan, Nicole Stott, and Tim Broderick joined an elite group of people in this world who have spent 24 hours under the sea in 'saturation,' making them the world's three newest aquanauts."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 1
"I'm looking forward to my first night of 'sleeping with the fishes.'"
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 6
"The mission as planned will be the most complex and longest NEEMO and Aquarius mission to date."
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 5
"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!!"
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 4
"Ross ... intentionally swam Nicole and I around in circles to try and get us lost. He did a pretty good job!"
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 3
"The pace is beginning to pick-up with more diving tasks being added every day."
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 1
"Today was our first day of training in our final week before the mission."
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