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TEAM LOG: March 5, 2004

Physiological Training and Chamber Run

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It's Friday night and Mike, Matt, and Alice are passed out in the suite. Apparantly, the high altitude chamber training took a little more out of them than me. Unfortunate. So, I'm finishing the log for today.

Today, we had our physiological training. Four hours talking about hypoxia and hyperventilation and gas laws and decompression sickness and so on. We returned to the suite for lunch (see Dave! we ARE using our kitchen!) and our high altitude chamber training was in the afternoon. It was interesting to see how punchy we got.

This afternoon we drove up to the NBL for our hypobaric chamber session. After getting fitted with our helmets and masks, we had a brief equipment overview. Then, we proceeded to the hypobaric chamber with the teams from North Dakota and New Mexico for our high altitude training.

We started with a half hour prebreathe. I guess Alice and I have oddly shaped faces because the masks didn't fit us right and they had us use the A-14 Manual Pressure Demand Regulator instead of the Automatic Pressure Demand Regulator most of the others used. After half an hour, they brought us up to 25,000 feet. Alice and I were sitting opposite Mike and Matt and the two of us removed our masks first. We were asked to fill out this worksheet with simple math problems and questions. Neither Alice nor I got particularly goofy. The girl next to me was having a ball. Almost right away, she just started laughing and listing in her seat. I sat there with my head bent down over my paper. Occasionally I'd look up and laugh at Mike's face. I was quite focused and didn't always hear what the test directors were saying. My face felt really warm and by the end I was a bit dizzy and probably had my standard goofy smile plastered to my face. Alice also spent most of the time with her head bent over her paper, though she started to list a bit by the end too.

After 5 minutes, we went back on oxygen and it was Mike and Matt's turn. Mike claimed he didn't feel much, just a little lightheaded. I was sitting across from him, and he did have several moments of completely blank expressions. Matt, on the other hand, got pretty swell pretty quickly. He had a smile plastered on his face and started listing all over the place. The test directors kept making fun of him and Mike's blank expressions over the intercom. After the boys went back on oxygen, Matt's face turn bright cherry red. Then, the brought the chamber back down to sea level. Fortunately, nobody in the chamber had too much trouble with their Valsalvas, though Alice and another guy couldn't quite get their fingers under the hard plastic of the mask to squeeze their noses. Alice got checked out by the doctor when we got out of the chamber, but was completely fine.

Afterwards, we were given a tour of the NBL. We got to go down to the deck of the pool and wander around. It was huuuuuuuuge! The PAO with the Reduced Gravity Program gave us the tour. It was pretty neat to check out their setup and be allowed a relatively generous free reign to wander about the deck. Then we went up to the test director's suite and got the overhead view of their facility. Then we went down to the high bay and wandered about the equipment. The PAO gave us brief descriptions of some of the equipment sitting around, mostly HST mockups (which are all in the Space Systems Lab at Maryland now!).

I guess the hypoxia experience really wore everyone out. I'm still raring to go, but sleep is good too. Good night all, we'll continue the tale of our adventures on Monday!

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Last Modified: October 29, 2004