NASA Evacuates Astronauts From Deep-Sea Training - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

NASA Evacuates Astronauts From Deep-Sea Training

Photo courtesy NASA Photo courtesy NASA

KHQ.COM - NASA evacuated a crew of astronauts Wednesday from an underwater lab off the coast of Florida where they were training for a trip to an asteroid, due to the approach of Hurricane Rina.

"Crew decompressed overnight and will return to surface shortly. Hurricane Rina just a little too close for comfort," the US space agency said in a message on the microblogging site Twitter.

The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) team climbed aboard support boats that were waiting at the surface and they were expected to be on dry land by 9:00 am (1300 GMT).

The crew includes Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, commander Shannon Walker of NASA, and Steve Squyres, an expert on planetary exploration at Cornell University in New York.

They were about midway through a 13-day mission at the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory, the only undersea lab of its kind in the world located three miles (4.5 kilometers) off the coast of Key Largo, Florida.

The practice run aimed to help astronauts figure out how they would get around on a near gravity-free asteroid, a trip President Barack Obama has said could happen by 2025.

Hurricane Rina, packing winds of 110 miles (175 kilometers) per hour, was forecast to become a major category three storm before making landfall near the sprawling resort city of Cancun on Thursday.

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