In preparation for future deep space missions, NASA is planning to send an international crew into the watery depths of the Atlantic Ocean. This will be done as part of the space agency’s two week NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations 20 expedition, more commonly referred to as “NEEMO”. The expedition is currently scheduled to start on July 20, and will be tasked with testing techniques and tools that may be used for spacewalks in the future in places with differing surfaces and levels of gravity.
The crew will be heading down with a pair of professional habitat technicians, and they will all live together at a depth of 62ft. They’ll be located at the Florida International University’s Aquarius Reef Base, a research base that is a little over six miles off the Key Largo coast.
This part of the NEEMO 20 mission will be commanded by the European Space Agency’s Luca Parmitano, who previously spent 166 days aboard the International Space Station. The underseas crew will be testing hardware that the ESA has sponsored, as well as get data on the delay of communication that could be experienced by some future space missions.
Said NEEMO Project Lead Bill Todd, “Living and working in the highly operational, isolated and extreme environment of the aquatic realm has provided significant science and engineering for the benefit of human spaceflight. It has also clearly proven to be as close to spaceflight as is possible here on Earth.”