Hurricane Rina cancels space simulation mission

KEY LARGO, Fla., Oct. 26 (UPI) — NASA says an underwater deep-space mission simulation exercise off the coast of Florida has been scrapped because of the approach of Hurricane Rina.

American, Japanese and Canadian researchers had been taking part in the mission intended to replicate, both technologically and psychologically, the experience of a real deep space mission, Postmedia.com reported Wednesday.

They had been scheduled to remain 60 feet underwater in the Aquarius undersea habitat test module from Oct. 17 to Oct. 29 but were brought to the surface Tuesday night as a precaution because of the approaching hurricane, officials said.

The crew of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations 11 repressurized Tuesday night then swam to the surface where a boat waited to return them to shore.

“[Mission controllers] were watching the weather forecast yesterday and were 90 percent sure that they were going to have go to ahead and end the mission,” NASA spokesperson Brandi Dean told SPACE.com.

“If the forecast had changed dramatically, [the crew] could have stayed down, but that didn’t happen.”

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