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Today was the first full day in sim, and the first Extra Vehicular Activity. Prior to heading out on EVA, the crew spent some time establishing communications protocols, and prepping the EVA equipment. As we have several members of the crew with experience in the real procedures used on the International Space Station, we are trying to adopt as many aspects of those procedures as we can. This includes the methods used to communicate between the habitat (designated “habcom”) and the crew members on EVA. 

As sometimes happens with real EVAs, we had a number of ‘contingency’ situations today. This means events that were not planned, and that put crew members at risk. In the first of these events, crew member Rebecca Rodriguez became blinded when her ‘snoopy hat’ (the hat worn by astronauts inside their helmet) fell down over her eyes. Rebecca was assisted back to the airlock with another member of her EVA team. After repressurizing the airlock, she was assisted back into the hab where the situation was rectified. The second contingency event occurred later in the EVA when crew member Wissam Rammo experienced a “decompression” event. In this case, one of the latches on his helmet came undone, and his helmet visor fogged up. Wissam was assisted back to the airlock by another member of the EVA crew, and after cycling the airlock was assisted back into the hab. The aim of today’s EVA was an initial test of the quadcopter experiment, and training in handling and flight characteristics of the quadcopter. The crew experienced some control issues with the quadcopter, and it was a mixed success.

During the course of the EVA, the crew received a report from Mission Support that the main water tank has ruptured, and that we must enact immediate water rationing. As soon as Commander Charles returned from EVA, the crew gathered to establish some rules around water usage in order conserve what we have left. The result? No showers, creative meal plans with minimal water usage (this is tricky with dehydrated food) and….interesting toilet arrangements. The less said about that the better.

Finally, we discovered that something was rapidly consuming our very limited data budget, and with our daily allowance disappearing before our eyes the crew scrambled to establish the cause. The culprit was found before all of our allowance disappeared: an MDRS astronomy laptop having wifi enabled. We will troubleshoot this tomorrow after our internet bandwidth is replenished. It may or may not have been due to automatic updates still being enabled on the laptop.

Today threw a lot of challenges at the crew, with a number of situations that really tested how we work together as a team. In every case the crew rose to the challenge admirably. As a reward, and in order to de-stress a little, the crew then participated in a game of “Saboteur”, a slightly surreal French card game. Once everyone got the hang of the rules, it was enthusiastically embraced by the crew, and it was a nice exercise in team bonding.

The plan for tomorrow is to take another EVA to test out the EVA planning software. Hopefully things will be a little less eventful!