First all-female habitat mission
Last updated: December 8, 2017 at 14:58 pm
1970 – Tektite II – The mission led by Dr. Sylvia Earle spent two weeks at a depth of 15 m (50 ft) off the U.S. Virgin Islands, in Great Lameshur Bay. The team consisted of four scientists, Sylvia Earle, Renate True, Ann Hartline, Alina Szmant, and one engineer Peggy Ann Lucas. In addition to research conducted inside the habitat, the aquanauts spent up to 12 hours in the water each day.
The Tektite II saturation diving program was conducted in the U.S. Virgin Islands from April to November, 1970. This program enabled 11 successive teams to conduct biological, physical and chemical studies in a tropical coral reef environment. Each team consisted of four scientist-divers and one engineer-diver to manage the support systems of the Tektite habitat. Divers lived in the habitat at a depth of about 50 feet (15 m) which allowed unlimited working time within a depth range of 25 to 65 feet (7.6 m to 20 m). The shallow limit was the physiological minimal safe excursion depth for divers saturated at 50 feet (15 m). The deeper limit was simply the greatest depth that could be reached within reasonable swimming distance from the Tektite habitat. The physiological lower depth limit was established at 100 feet (30 m).
The Tektite habitat was supplied with air, electricity, water and communications via an umbilical running from a constantly manned control station ashore several hundred feet from the habitat. During all scuba-equipped excursions away from the habitat, divers were followed by a safety team in a skiff overhead. The total decompression time required following saturation in the Tektite habitat was approximately 20 hours and was carried out in a surface decompression chamber after transfer of the divers from 25-feet (7.6 m) depth to the surface chamber in a pressurized personnel transfer capsule.