In Robert Heinlein’s 1948 novel Space Cadet, spacemen of the future learned their profession aboard an orbital training ship. Because there aren’t any retired space ships in orbit to play the part of PRS James Randolph in real life, astronauts headed for duty aboard the International Space Station must find earthbound substitutes. For the European Space Agency (ESA), the alternative is to turn smartly about and go underground. On September 7, CAVES 2012 (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behavior and performance Skills) will see six international astronauts descend into the caverns of the island of Sardinia to learn how to use space procedures by going potholing.
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