Hurricane Rina forces Nasa evacuation

2011-10-27 07:25

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Washington - Nasa evacuated a crew of astronauts on Wednesday from an underwater lab off the coast of Florida where they were training for a trip to an asteroid, due to the approach of Hurricane Rina.

"Crew decompressed overnight and will return to surface shortly. Hurricane Rina just a little too close for comfort," the US space agency said in a message on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

The Nasa Extreme Environment Mission Operations (Neemo) team climbed aboard support boats that were waiting at the surface and they were expected to be on dry land by 9:00 (13:00 GMT).

The crew includes Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, commander Shannon Walker of Nasa, and Steve Squyres, an expert on planetary exploration at Cornell University in New York.

They were about midway through a 13-day mission at the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory, the only undersea lab of its kind in the world located 4.5km off the coast of Key Largo, Florida.

The practice run aimed to help astronauts figure out how they would get around on a near gravity-free asteroid, a trip US President Barack Obama has said could happen by 2025.

Hurricane Rina, packing winds of 175km/h, was forecast to become a major category three storm before making landfall near the sprawling resort city of Cancún on Thursday.
Read more on:    nasa  |  weather  |  space
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