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NASA Ready for Next Round of Orion Recovery Tests

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Sep 13, 2014 5:23 am via: NASA
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NASA, Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy continue to perfect techniques needed to recover Orion from the Pacific Ocean when it splashes down at the end of the spacecraft’s first flight test in December. During recovery testing miles off the coast of California Sept. 12 through 19, teams will perform a full dress rehearsal of the primary Orion recovery method and practice a backup recovery technique.

The USS Salvor (T-ARS 52), a safeguard-class rescue and salvage ship, will head out to sea Sept. 12 for four days to first test the backup recovery method, in which the recovery teams will use a crane attached to the Navy ship to retrieve a test version of Orion from the water. The team will start in calm seas and test its way through more challenging waters to determine recommended weather and sea condition limits for crane recovery.

At Naval Base San Diego in California, a crane is used Sept. 11 to transfer the Orion boilerplate test vehicle into the USS Salvor, a safeguard-class rescue and salvage ship that will be used for Underway Recovery Test 4A. The ship will head out to sea for four days to test crew module crane recovery operations. NASA, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy are conducting the test to prepare for recovery of the Orion crew module on its return from a deep space mission.  Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

At Naval Base San Diego in California, a crane is used Sept. 11 to transfer the Orion boilerplate test vehicle into the USS Salvor, a safeguard-class rescue and salvage ship that will be used for Underway Recovery Test 4A. The ship will head out to sea for four days to test crew module crane recovery operations. NASA, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy are conducting the test to prepare for recovery of the Orion crew module on its return from a deep space mission. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

On Sept. 15, the USS Salvor will rendezvous with the USS Anchorage in the open sea to hand off the Orion test vehicle. During testing on the USS Anchorage, the team will conduct a full dress rehearsal for Orion recovery, ahead of its December flight test, of the well deck recovery method. That option involves the spacecraft being winched into a flooded portion of the naval vessel. The end-to-end test will include Mission Control Center support from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, weather balloons, two Navy helicopters, four rigid hull inflatable boats and two Zodiac boats.

At the conclusion of the test, Sept. 19, the USS Anchorage will return to Naval Base San Diego where the Orion test vehicle and support equipment will be offloaded.

The recovery tests are led by the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Orion boilerplate test vehicle, hardware and equipment were loaded into the USS Salvor on Sept. 11 at Naval Base San Diego in California for Underway Recovery Test 4A. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Orion boilerplate test vehicle, hardware and equipment were loaded into the USS Salvor on Sept. 11 at Naval Base San Diego in California for Underway Recovery Test 4A. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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