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IMAGE: NEEMO 7  Mission Commander Robert Thirsk

NEEMO 7 Mission Commander Robert Thirsk.

*NEEMO 7 Journals
*Aquanaut Profile: Robert Thirsk

NEEMO 7 Journals

NEEMO 7, Robert Thirsk
Day 9, Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Whew! This was our busiest and most hectic day of the mission. Medical science and robotic skill evaluations dominated the day.

I am happy to report that, true to form, my Canadian Space Agency colleagues were able to rescue the Robo experiment. Michel Doyon, one of the experiment investigators, flew from Montreal to Key Largo last night with a backup hand controller. NURC made a special potting run this morning to deliver the replacement to us in time for today's Robo ops.

The Robo hand controller calibration was successful and all five participating crewmembers were able to complete their sessions. Once again there was more hooting and hollering in the habitat as James and Billy took the controls. Each managed to "nail" several grapples.

We have now completed 100% of the science objectives for this mission. This is a special accomplishment for everyone associated with NEEMO 7. At various times during the mission, different folks had to scramble to troubleshoot glitches that cropped up.

I endorse the sentiment that NEEMO is a good analog for human space missions. While simulators at NASA, CSA and elsewhere can train us to perform EVAs, robotic operations or rendezvous, no single system simulator can replicate all of the interactions between crew, mission controllers, scientists, and management. NEEMO missions, however, can. Timeline pressures and constraints are always on our minds. The undersea setting and saturated condition also presents no-kidding challenges to human physiology and equipment operations. Strict adherence to safety procedures permeates all that we do inside and outside the habitat ... just like spaceflight.

I am melancholic about the end of this mission since I will probably not have the opportunity to repeat this otherworldly experience. I will miss the view of Conch Reef and its sea life through Aquarius' numerous portholes. I will miss the crew's mad frenetic pace to stay on the mission timeline and to troubleshoot glitches. I will miss our EVA dives. Most of all I will miss my five crew mates. Although we lived for eleven days in an isolated and confined space, we all got along well and functioned like a well-oiled machine. Three of us will return to the NASA Astronaut Office and undoubtedly work on other projects together. But it won't be the same.

This will be my last NEEMO journal. Tomorrow is "Deco Day." We will pack up our experiment hardware and personal items for potting up to the surface. Late tomorrow, we will seal the hatches, decompress the habitat back to atmospheric pressure, and intermittently breathe oxygen to purge our bodies of the excess nitrogen. On Thursday morning, we will be ready to "splash up" to the surface.

I was told that it is a NEEMO tradition for the crew to watch a DVD movie together during deco evening. Cady has brought along an off-the-wall movie to ensure that we maintain that tradition.

The NEEMO 7 mission has been a success. We have met all of the scientific and other mission objectives. There are so many organizations and individuals who deserve credit for this accomplishment. We will do our best to express our appreciation at the Splash-Up Party on Thursday evening. Above all, Dr. Dave Williams deserves to be singled out. Dave had the vision, persistence and management skills to pull together key people and resources to make this happen. I regret that Dave was unable to participate as a crewmember in the mission. He really missed something special.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 10/23/2004
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