17 September 2013ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, Russian cosmonaut Aleksei Ovchinin, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and NASA astronauts Mike Barratt and Jack Fischer started their underground training yesterday with a first trip into the depths of the island of Sardinia, Italy.The first job was getting used to moving around a cave. Like spacewalking, caving involves thinking in three dimensions, tethering and having a buddy for safety.
The unique course offers practical experience for the astronauts on leadership, teamwork, making the right decisions and solving problems in a multicultural team.
In many ways, the ‘cavenauts’ will be working in a more remote and hostile environment than on the International Space Station. In an emergency, astronauts in space can return to Earth faster than the cavenauts can ascend to the surface.