NASA crew will train for asteroid in the sea

Nasa crew
Sixty feet beneath the waves off the Florida Keys, NASA will, beginning Monday, take some of its first tentative steps toward sending humans to an asteroid.

In addition to building a spacecraft and a booster rocket, the space agency also needs to develop new tools and methods if it is to successfully land astronauts on a large hunk of rock with virtually no gravity.

To that end, a crew of three "aquanauts" and a scientist will begin a 13-day mission Monday on the sea floor near Key Largo, to begin developing the equipment and operations that would be used for an asteroid mission.

"We're not practicing asteroid exploration," said Steve Squyres, the principal scientist behind the Mars Opportunity and Spirit rovers, who is part of the expedition. "What we're going to be doing is taking the first steps toward learning how to do asteroid exploration with humans."

The crew will spend nearly two weeks living inside the school bus-size Aquarius lab in the Conch Reef of the Florida Keys and working outside.

Although the facility is owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA has used it 14 times during the last decade as a proxy for space exploration.

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