NASA Astronauts Spotted Off Florida Coast: LIVE STREAM

On June 21, 2012 by Jonathan Bright

Looking out to sea from the Florida beaches right now, you may catch a rare glimpse of a school of NASA astronauts breach the water’s surface before diving back under. You’d be forgiven for thinking NASA has all but given up on space following the shuttle’s decommissioning and, true to its retiree status, decided to go fishing in Key Largo.

But no. These astronauts in fact are training for a whole other type of space travel – to a “near-Earth asteroid.” Since June 11, NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) ‘Aquanauts’, as they are referred to, were sent to live for two weeks in the world’s only undersea laboratory – Aquarius – about 3.5 miles off the coast of Key Largo. This NASA marine venture allows astronauts to simulate missions and perform relatively mundane maintenance tasks in a claustrophobic, reduced gravity environment.

Check out the fascinating LIVE STREAM direct from NEEMO. Live Q&A sessions are running periodically so viewers can get involved:

Video streaming by Ustream

The NASA website states: “Much like space, the undersea world is a hostile, alien place for humans to live. NEEMO crew members experience some of the same challenges there that they would on a distant asteroid, planet or moon.

Sending astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid is a current priority of President Obama’s, as many scientists and business investors begin to realise mining these space rocks, more than a mere pipe dream, could be fundamental to easing humanity’s reliance on the Earth’s slowly deteriorating resources. It feels very Star Wars, sure, but this is an age where science fiction becomes fact. The commercial space race.

The current roster – NEEMO 16 – of aquanauts comprise NASA’s Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, European Space Agency’s Timothy Peake, Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui and Steve Squyres, Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University.

They are presently investigating the best way to anchor an astronaut to the rock and the most effective techniques for exploration, the best robotic systems to help the crew with their tasks, and how communications with mission control on Earth would be affected.

Such missions provide real insight into the long-term, bigger picture of space travel. So next time you’re on Cocoa Beach enjoying the weather in Florida, drop by Kennedy Space Center and witness first hand the progress that’s being made not just to travel to outer space, but eventually make it a home-from-home.