June 26, 2016

"We usually send them 400 km up, but next week ESA will be sending six astronauts 800 m underground into the rocky caves of Sardinia, Italy."

ESA: The caving course recreates aspects of a space expedition with an international crew and has become an essential part of ESA’s astronaut training. via CAVES

'This year’s participants are ESA astronaut Pedro Duque, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Richard Arnold, Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide, Chinese astronaut Ye Guangfu and cosmonaut Sergei Korsakov. Caves offer a dark and alien underground environment with many analogies to space. Deep underground, our senses are deprived of many sounds and natural light. The procedure for moving along a cave wall resembles spacewalking and cave explorers need to stay alert, take critical decisions both as an individual and as a team, just as in space.'

Source: ESA–A. Boesso

'The CAVES – Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising – course focuses on multicultural approaches to leadership, following orders, teamwork and decision-making. By the end, the astronauts have a better understanding of how they function in a multicultural team and what they are skilled at, as well as areas for self-improvement. “We are very pleased to include the first female astronaut and first ‘taikonaut’ in this CAVES course,” says mission director Loredana Bessone, “creating an even better mix of cultures and experience to put the astronauts’ behaviour to the test.”'

CAVES information kit (PDF) here

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