The first Iowa woman in space is headed the opposite direction on her next NASA mission. Mount Ayr native Peggy Whitson spent six months aboard the International Space Station last year. Later this month, she’ll head for Aquarius, an underwater lab off Key Largo, Florida. Whitson says “Instead of 240 miles up, I’ll be 60 feet below the surface.” Whitson and her team will spent two weeks living in the submerged station, doing experiments and donning scuba gear to study nearby marine life. They’ll be doing coral reef studies as well as a number of different “life sciences” studies. She says the isolation environment is similar to the isolation in space.Whitson hopes to return to space someday. She did an E-V-A or extra vehicular activity during her mission aboard the space station last year — something she’ll relive during her trip underwater as they practice building new parts of the orbiting station. The 43-year-old says they’ll practice building segments of the space station using P-V-C pipe as she says scuba diving is much like space walking.
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