CkssK9zWEAAhCE5Here we go again, going deep underground for CAVES 2016, but for now we are preparing the course. We never really stopped, we just went low profile, out of the spotlight, because if astronauts are not involved, nobody cares, right?

Well, we do! Astronauts, Cosmonauts and now Taikonauts will join us, after we  build the course, write the manuals, and act as test pilots, which really is both much harder and much better.

So, where are we? And what are the plans?

In short (but real short), we have reworked many of the technical procedures, which includes all preparatory activities. It has been a #donkeyjob, but really useful to get ready for the next step of CAVES (did I tell you yet? We are growing, oh, you will hear about it, it’s sooo cool)

In the meantime CAVES became an officially recognised CAI course, we have even more CAI instructors with us, and we have increased our cooperation with CNSAS, which is involved now in all phases of our course (we will write separate blog entries  about these cooperations).

Xferra specs

Xferra specs

On the #mission side this year we will be using new communication systems, the xFerra, which allows to communicate through 800 m of rock and we will adopt a very simple operation concept, which will make Cavenauts more free to explore and enjoy the cave while keeping the Ground team awfully busy decoding what happened inside day by day.

The Ground team will be much more aware of what we will be doing inside, but they will also test different methods for data entry, storage, data linking and backup. We do this with the intention of deriving requirements for the next generation of CAVES operations tools, but also to start preparing operational concepts for future space-exploration missions.

Using xferra

Using xferra

We will have a new photogrammetry experiment, and we will get the crew to record their own mission logs while they are deep in the cave, sending back their reports to Ground, and to you too.

For the time being mostly the CAVES core team is involved. A couple of weeks ago the Training Readiness Review board declared us #go for #caves2016. Mid June the full CAVES support team will come together again in Sardinia, preparing everything for the next Cavenaut team to join in the last weeks of June – early July.

About the crew: we welcome our first woman Cavenaut. It was about time, I say. And we will have an even more international crew, with a Taikonaut taking part. We will make #space history. We have a really fantastic crew and we are sooo looking forward to start.

CAVES is growing in so many ways. In the meanwhile, #staytuned and #neverstopexploring.

Loredana Bessone
CAVES Course and Mission Director