PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - Members of the Panama City Navy Experimental Diving Unit are on the verge of completing their eleven-day saturation dive.
As of Saturday morning, the divers are a little under 380-feet of water with a few more days to go.
But before they exit those tightly sealed chambers, they're working with French Astronaut Thomas Pesquet at the International Space Station.
He's also a saturation diver.
Their mission is to test their lines of communication despite the 55,000 gallons of water that separates them.
"Diving communications are important because the diver is the eyes and ears and hands of the control room or the Master Diver who's supervising the dives," said NEDU Dive & Medical Officer Lt. Jonathan Brown.
Since day one of their mission, they've used their new communication system to test the divers' voices.
"Because of mixed gas diving and saturation diving with helium and how it alters the voices, we need to test our de-scrambler system in order to be able to understand what people are saying," said Brown.
From 'under the sea' to outer space, that's how far the NEDU is willing to test their equipment.
"Trying to establish that relationship and bring that camaraderie is also important as well and so we view that as a nice activity for the saturation divers and the International Space Station," said Brown.
Brown said Pesquet shares some similarities when it comes to isolation.
"That's kind of one that our astronauts and our saturation divers have in common, and so even with decompression there's some similarities to that as well with changes to the atmosphere," said Brown.
Brown has experienced what it's like to complete the saturation dive.
He said it's critical that communication is clear, and those who are manning the chambers are at ease.
"We have a very supportive team of watch centers that work 24 hours a day during the saturation dives to make sure that everybody's comfortable," said Brown.
The divers are scheduled to have another call with NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston.
It'll be Tuesday, just two days before their saturation dive is complete.
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