Tektite I

HABITAT

The habitat was comprised of two steel cylinders attached to a rectangular steel base and connected by a crossover tunnel. Each cylinder contained a circular upper and lower compartment measuring 12.5 feet (3.8 m) in diameter and 9 feet (2.7 m) high, as well as large hemispherical ports with a cupola located on top of the equipment room for crew observation.

Base: The base of the habitat contained two passageways with barred gates at each end. One permitted access to the wet room and one passed under the normally closed emergency escape hatch beneath the floor in the crew quarters. In addition to providing a rigid attachment for the twin cylinders, the base contained variable seawater ballast tanks and fixed ballast bins to hold the steel punchings and iron pigs necessary for ballast.

Crew Quarters: Crew quarters included four built-in bunks, drawer space, a sink, a stove, a refrigerator and a radio and TV set.

Bridge: The bridge contained the environmental control and alarm panels, the communications panel and other ancillary instrumentation. It served as the habitat control center and as a dry laboratory for the scientists.

Equipment Room: The equipment room held the electrical system, a large freezer and a toilet.

Wet Room: In the wet room were a freshwater shower, a clothes dryer, storage space for scuba gear and stainless steel counters for specimen preparation and study.

The habitat was placed on the seafloor on January 28, 1969 and preparations for the mission were completed by February 14. Pressure inside was equivalent to 43 feet (13.1 m) of seawater. Unlike previous habitat programs in which the habitat descended as a result of negative buoyancy, the Project Tektite habitat was winched down while still 5000 pounds positively buoyant (by kristopher). Once it was on the seafloor, water was admitted to the ballast tanks and pig iron added to achieve the necessary negative buoyancy of 10 tons.

The four aquanauts entered the habitat at 10:55 a.m. on February 15, 1969. They breathed a mixture of 92% nitrogen and 8% oxygen while in the habitat and as air when using scuba for excursions. Inside the habitat, temperature could be controlled over a range of 75 to 90 F (24 to 32 C). The aquanauts preferred between 80 and 85 F (26.7 to 29.4 C). Humidity was controllable between 42% and 60%, with a preferred setting of about 50%.

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Tektite Underwater Habitat Museum

 

Web page text edited and revised with permission from James W. Miller and Ian G. Koblick’s book: Living and Working in the Sea, 1995.