Navy Hosts NASA Space Craft Recovery Tests
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
NASA engineers, Navy divers and Sailors assigned to the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) tow a test Orion capsule into the well deck of Arlington. This phase one test determined the best method for recovering the capsule after earth reentry and splashdown in the ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist James Davis/Released)

After three days of practice, NASA conducted a stationary recovery test of their latest space craft, the Orion, in the well deck of the amphibious transport dock USS Arlington (LPD 24) while berthed at Naval Station Norfolk's Pier 12 on Aug. 15, 2013.

This successful test of the four-man, 16-foot capsule paves the way for future testing of NASA's Orion Program, including a West Coast underway recovery test in January, and the recovery of a low-orbit module following splashdown in the fall of 2014. NASA plans its first unmanned Orion voyage to take place in 2017, and a manned expedition in 2021.

"Arlington is all about ownership and standards, and Arlington is setting the standards for the other ships in our class that will be assisting in the recoveries of Orion space craft." said Arlington Commanding Officer Cmdr. Darren Nelson. "To be able to work with NASA on the next manned space capsule is a dream come true for many Arlington crew members - they are very excited about this unique opportunity."

Arlington Sailors and Marines assisting with the recovery in front of, adjacent to, and above the well deck throughout the week were joined by more than 75 NASA engineers, designers and technicians from Langley Research Center, Kennedy Space Center and Johnson Space Center.

The testing was overseen by NASA Recovery Director Louie Garcia.

"We performed the recovery several times earlier this week, and have gotten proficient at it," he said. "Today we did everything all together, perfecting the operation as if the capsule had left its orbit and splashed down, sending the small boats out to conduct a safety assessment, hook the taglines up and tow it into the well deck. The capsule was floated in over a cradle in the ballasted ship, and then settled into the cradle when the ship was deballasted.

"We have a requirement that we have the crew hatch opened within two hours of splashdown. We are trying to verify if that is a realistic goal, and so far it has been."

The U.S. Navy has worked with NASA with space craft recoveries for programs including Mercury (1959-1963), Gemini (1961-1966) and Apollo (1961-1972). The last recovery done by the U.S. Navy was in 1975.

Arlington's namesake predecessor, the major communications relay ship USS Arlington (AGMR 2) assisted with the recoveries of Apollo 8 in 1968, and 10 and 11 the following year.

NASA has been planning the Orion recovery tests for more than five years.

The most challenging part of the Orion recovery was in the "choreography" of all the moving parts, Garcia said.

"We have never done this before, and we are working with Arlington, which of course has never done anything like this before either," he explained. "Also, we are working with people we've just met, and learning how to mesh different government organizations together so that their strengths and skills can accomplish the recovery of the capsule."

Arlington, a San-Antonio class warship, has many unique capabilities that make it an ideal partner to support NASA, including the ability to embark helicopters, launch and recover small boats, three dimensional air search radar and advanced medical facilities.

"This is a cost-effective partnership," Nelson noted. "The Navy has the necessary at-sea recovery experience and capabilities and is always willing to work with government and private partners when directed and when it makes the most sense in terms of capability and economy."

The recovery testing aboard Arlington has proven that the U.S. Navy can safely support NASA's requests for operational support without adversely impacting the Department of Defense's primary warfighting mission.

"This is a building block for the United States to conduct manned space flight again," Garcia said.

The ship is named for Arlington County, Va., home of the Pentagon, in honor of the 184 victims and heroes who lost their lives during the terrorist attack there on 9-11.

Arlington is the eighth in Navy's San Antonio class of ships, designed to be the most survivable amphibious vessels ever put to sea. The third in the U.S. fleet to bear the name, Arlington was be commissioned on April 6, 2013. The ship combines 21st century amphibious shipbuilding and warfighting technologies to support current and future

Marine Corps aircraft and landing craft, and will be capable of taking nearly 1,200 Sailors and Marines into harm's way.

Maritime Today

The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter November 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds


Bill on Danish Maritime Planning Submitted

The bill is to form the basis of a maritime planning act intended to promote economic growth and development of sea areas. The Danish Maritime Authority is to head the work.

Seaspan Implements ECO Insight solution

Seaspan Ship Management Ltd. will implement the DNV GL fleet performance management solution ECO Insight to improve their fleet monitoring. ECO Insight will

New Appointments at Becker Marine Systems USA

Becker Marine Systems USA continues growth in North America. Becker Marine Systems, the leader in rudder technology and the inventor of the Becker Mewis Duct


North Korea Submarine-Launch Missile a Flop Show

North Korea apparently failed to launch a ballistic missile from a submarine in a sign that Pyongyang has yet to master the technology, Yonhap news agency quoted a government official as saying.

Maersk to Idle Vessel

The world's biggest container-ship operator Maersk Line  has confirmed market talk that it has temporarily idled one of its largest vessels - yet another sign that the industry is in dire straits,

Russian Navy Trying Hard for Facelift

Official announcements related to naval shipbuilding give the appearance of a Russian Navy that is undergoing a rapid revival. However, the reality is that many


Panama-Registered Ship Sinks off Vigan City

A Panamanian cargo vessel MV Fortune Life sank off the coast 130 nautical off Vigan City in Ilocos Sur, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), uthorities said.   The

Lightering Operations Begin for Sunken Lake Barge

Lightering operations has begunn for the  tanker barge Argo sunken in Lake Erie as Unified Command responders took advantage of a favorable weather window, the U.

British Forces Assist Stricken Cruise Liner

Military assets deployed in support of Falkland Island government in cruise ship rescue. In support of the Falkland Island Government, British forces based in

Underwater Engineering

Fugro's Havila Harmony to join MH370 Search

Fugro is providing an additional vessel, the Havila Harmony, to join the search for the missing flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. From the 93-metre multi-role vessel,

Ship Conversion: Offshore Survey Vessel to Become a Flotel

Dutch shipowner C-Bed has contracted Wärtsilä Ship Design to supply the design for rebuilding its Seismic Survey Vessel, the Viking II, for use as a hotel vessel

Largest Underwater CO2 Release from Pipeline - DNV GL

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is gaining momentum to meet stringent climate change goals and secure energy supplies for the future. To fully

Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Navigation Pod Propulsion Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.0984 sec (10 req/sec)