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You are here: /main/research/HURL 2002/journals/inner space ship

HURL 2002

Ship Logs

Inner Space Ship
Posted by Ray Boland

I climbed down into the sub following Terry and Sean. There are very few people in the world that get to do what Terry Kerby does for a living. Terry Kerby is a sub driver and he has been doing it for nearly 20 years. If you have ever seen any movie where there were mini subs being used (James Bond flicks, The Abyss, to name a few) chances are you've seen Terry driving those subs. Sean was the other new observer, and Terry was familiarizing us with the features of the sub while it was safely tucked away in its hangar. The sphere of the sub is about 7 feet in diameter, so it took a few steps to climb down into the sub.

The cabin was cramped with all three of us in it. There were two shelves along either side of the sphere that had a cushion on it, Sean and I sat opposite each other. Terry took a seat at the front that looked like a single small cushion. The interior of the sub instantly reminded me of the interiors of the early space capsules. Rows of switches and dials dominated most of the interior. The panels of switches and controls were painted an institutional blue, giving it that all business look. At the back was a shelf that housed VCRs and also served as the ladder. The view ports seemed to be at the bottom of the cabin. Two were on either side at the head of each cushioned shelf and one centrally. It was quite obvious that the central view port was where the pilot "sat". The observers were to lay on either side, looking out of their respective view ports. The pilot would be crouched over forward, laying his chest and forehead on a support while kneeling. The positions looked extremely cramped and uncomfortable. There was no space to layout fully, I would have to fold my legs over my back to lie flat.

Terry ran through the features of the sub: safety precautions, operating procedures and the tasks that an observer would be doing. He showed us the controls to the two robotic arms and howthey worked, how the video cameras were operated and the controls to piloting the sub. The controls to piloting were a big let down. There was no joystick, just a switch for attitude control and two small levers for throttles. Since the sub is electric, the throttles controlled the amount of juice going to the thrusters. Terry also told us that at depth, it could get cool, so we should bring some warm clothes. It was a good idea to wear socks, but no shoes. Finally he warned us about a final concern. "There is no bathroom. Just some bags to go in. We'll be down for 8 hours, so you might want to watch your intake. Any questions?"

I looked about the sub's cabin and couldn't think of any questions. I felt like I was about to shoot into space. In this case, it was inner space. I was an astronaut of inner space: an aquanaut. I remember how astronauts looked as they drifted about their cramped space cabin on the shuttle. Sometimes they wore t-shirts, shorts and socks in zero g. I would be dressed the same attire, no fancy space suit, no fancy jumpsuit. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that tiny thrill of exploration. That small bit of worry and hesitation before you embark on something new, but still you go because the excitement of exploration pulls you forward. I was going into inner space, in an inner space ship.

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