Five women aquanauts were brought to the ocean surface at St. John in the Virgin?
Five women aquanauts were brought to the ocean surface at St. John in the Virgin Islands on Wednesday (22 July) after two weeks on the sea bed as part of the Tektite II programme. The women were the first to ever participate in such a mission, which was to live and work in their small capsule parked 50 feet (15 meters) under the sea. The five aquanauts are the first women to descent to the capsule.
When they emerged from their underwater sojurn, the aquanauts were given gifts of pineapples and roses from the technicians on the surface.
The women, who are all scientists, are part of a number of teams participating in Tektite II, a programme conducted by the Department of the Interior and other government agencies. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is cooperating with the seven-month programme to gain information for use in planning of space stations. The programme was begun last April.
The capsule is a combination underwater research laboratory and living quarters. It is made of two 18-foot high (5 meters) cylinders connected by a small tunnel.
Among the tasks undertaken by the aquanauts was a study of the habits of fish and various related marine biology projects. Studies of marine ecology and oceanography were also performed during the two weeks under the sea.
The aquanauts, who ventured as far as 1,500 feet (450 metres) from the capsule, used an experimental rebreathing apparatus which allows a diver to work underwater for as long as six hours. To keep from getting lost, the aquanauts carried compasses and directional listening devices that homed in on beeping signal from the capsule.