The past few weekends I spent earning my Open Water Diving Certification! I have wanted to scuba dive for a long time, but had never made it a priority. And you might be wondering what scuba diving has to do with being an astronaut. Well more than you might think!
Located near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, the Neutral Buoyancy Lab is where astronauts train to simulate weightlessness in space. The pool is large enough to place replicas of the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle, or the new SpaceX Dragon Capsule in for astronauts to simulate working on during an extravehicular activity (EVA) in space. On Earth, this is the closest we can get to weightlessness for long periods of time (another way would be on a Zero G flight, but the time you are weightless is not enough to do real work). Being comfortable in water is therefore a big plus if you are training to be an astronaut. You don't want to be developing that comfort while you are trying to focus on solving technical problems at the bottom of a pool. So I decided it was time to get scuba certified!
As a civilian, if you decide to get your scuba diving certificate, you will most likely go through PADI and start with an Open Water Diver Course. This course has an academic phase, pool phase, and open water phase. It is really good for learning all about how diving affects your body and the limitations that come with diving. You learn about how the pressure changes as you dive deeper, what effect that has on your body, and how to remain safe while out in the ocean. The course I completed took place over two weekends. I highly recommend doing it. It is fun and educational!
Not only do I see this as good training, but it is a lot of fun as well! I look forward to working with my great instructor Jim van Gogh to get up to the level of Master Scuba Diver. This involves additional training and completing 50 dives. Here are the classes and certifications that I will be working towards:
I am working towards these specifically because I think they will increase my knowledge of how the human body performs in various conditions, increase my medical skills, and make me a better navigator in different conditions. And I want to be able to eventually dive in more difficult and interesting areas.
I will continue writing about my diving experience over the next few months as I continue to progress. And if you happen to be in the Bay area and want to go diving, reach out!