Veteran astronaut Sandra Magnus will be the crew leader of a seven day mission to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aquarius underwater laboratory. Army Lieutenant Colonel Tim Cobra, Army Colonel Tim Kramer and Air Force Major Bob Banken round out the astronaut crew of this mission that begins on the 16th of this month.
The four are in training for possible assignment missions on the International Space Station and potentially missions to the moon. They'll use the near weightless underwater environment to imitate moon walking and test various spacesuit configurations and weights to simulate lunar gravity. They'll also test techniques for communication, navigation, retrieval of geological samples, construction using remote control robots on the moon's surface.
Aquarius is a 45 foot long 13 foot diameter complex sitting 62 feet underwater in the Florida Keys. It's owned by NOAA and operated by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington's undersea research center and it's a vital piece of NOAA's undersea research program.
Jim Bell Houston Public Radio News