Astronauts Train in Caves for Spaceflights

September 30, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. astronaut (n.) 
[as-truh-nawt, -not] – a pilot a crew member on a spacecraft
Example: He dreams of becoming an astronaut and exploring the space.

2. simulation (n.) [sim-yuh-ley-shuhn] – anything that is made to look like, act like or feel like something else
Example: Military simulations help soldiers practice for actual war scenarios.

3. orbiting (adj.) [awr-bit-ing] – moving around something else
Example: The orbiting moons around the planets were discovered many years ago.

4. seclude (v.) [si-klood] – to keep apart from others
Example: The children’s room is secluded from the adults’ area.

5. survey (v.) [ser-vey– to make a detailed study or check of something
Example: The engineer surveyed the area for any damages.

Read the text below.

Astronauts from different international space agencies went deep into the caves of Sardinia in Italy for survival training and preparation for their next spaceflight.

This training is part of the CAVES project, which stands for Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behavior and performance Skills. The project allows astronauts to work together and help each other through problems and challenging situations.

Caves provide a good simulation of the environment in an orbiting spacecraft, since caves are dark and secluded from the world. In caves, astronauts can experience the discomfort and lack of privacy that they will also likely experience in space.

The team includes astronauts from NASA, European Space Agency, Russia, Japan and Canada. Three of the team’s members already have spaceflight experiences.

The astronauts went down the cave last September 6 and stayed for six days. They tested safety routines and communication systems similar to what they would use in outer space.

Aside from exploring the cave, they also surveyed life forms in the cave, as astronauts would do if they were to go to other planets.

Test courses for the CAVES project began in 2008. In 2011, five astronauts from NASA, ESA, Russian and Japanese agencies participated in the project.

Aside from CAVES, several other space simulation programs exist to train astronauts for difficult space conditions. NASA, for example, is operating its own undersea training mission called NEEMO or NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations Program.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why should astronauts have a lot of practice at helping each other solve problems?
·         Have you ever helped or worked with others to get through a difficult situation? How did it go?

Discussion B

·         Have you tried practicing or preparing very hard for something? What did you do?
·         Why is training and preparation important?

September 30, 2012