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Crew Commander Daily Report

SOL 06

Crew 160

Crew Commander: Lycourgos Manolopoulos

        Today I was a chef, err, an assistant chef to the main Cassandra supervising my every move to make sure that I did not burn the water for food today. It was a challenge. The breakfast turned out fine and so did the lunch, however, this wouldn’t have been possible without her help. Tonight I came up with the idea for a stir fried meal. We’ll be sure to keep the fire extinguisher on hand.

        We had approval for a simulated injury/search and rescue EVA that truly tested everyone’s team working skills and challenged their perseverance in every way imaginable. What was thought to be at most an hour long search and rescue simulation with GPS assistance as well as updates from HabCom with topographical guidance, resulted in a real life emergency. The first issue was with the two GPS modules. When we tested them before, the coordinates did not match precisely, but they did well in providing an accurate “guestimate” of locations that would be near enough for visual contact. This was not the case one bit. The coordinates were completely skewed, for reasoning I could only believe to be caused by the prolonged use of the devices over many years. This caused the search and rescue crew to completely navigate off course while HabCom tried to cross reference both pairs’ coordinates. Needless to say, the team quickly adapted to the circumstances and worked together by guiding each other through landmarks that we all had to improvise on.

        Ashley began to guide the search and rescue team from a hilltop after she “stabilized” Marc’s “injury. Much time was lost due to the misleading directions of the GPS devices. Bearing in mind that the EVA team was running short on time before their life support systems would fail after the two our time limit, I was growing concerned that the members would not make it in time to the airlock before finding the “injured” member. Then the beautiful words “I have a visual on Marc!” echoed through the walkie talkies, with 25 minutes remaining of life support. Hiroki, who was in the search and rescue team, assisted Marc down the mountain since Marc had a “broken leg” from climbing; this took the two about 10 minutes to reach the bottom. Ashley began to climb down and started to head towards one of the ATVs to have it started and ready for Marc to drive since he didn’t need his leg. With 15 minutes remaining, which already was cutting it too close, we felt accomplished in the fact that we were able to successfully rescue a member and have everyone return safely. Well, that’s what we thought. When the EVA crew reached the ATVs, one would not start. After further inspection this was due to a simple error of switching the gas off, however, during the heat of the moment the crew was not able to identify this problem and wasted a good amount of time trying to start it. The first crew jogged on foot and made it to the hab with 7 minutes to spare. The second crew with the two ATVs placed the non-starting ATV in neutral and properly towed the ATV by securing the chain on both ATV frames. One member drove the functional ATV while the other was riding the towed ATV. This crew made it back by a hairline. We were able to have the last pair return with three minutes to spare, just enough time for the recompression. No damage occurred to the ATVs and all members were safe and unharmed.

        What was meant to be a simulation of an emergency turned out to be an emergency. This, to me, was the most realistic simulation imaginable for an EVA mission - purely due to the fact that almost nothing went according to plan. Each member reacted promptly and worked efficiently together to make it back safely to the hab. One thing is for sure, the GPS modules are remaining in the lab drawer. Also, no man left behind.