Practice Splashdown

Six pararescuemen from Air Force Reserve Command’s 920th Rescue Wing conducted an astronaut recovery drill last month using a mockup of NASA’s next-generation Orion crew capsule in the waters off Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. During this “post-landing Orion recovery test,” the airmen worked as they would during an actual splashdown, deploying an inflatable flotation collar around the mockup to stabilize the capsule and create a platform on which to stand as they help astronauts exit. Air Force pararescuemen will be the first on scene after an Orion splashdown to assist the astronauts and provide on-the-scene medial treatment, if necessary. Besides the opportunity for the airmen to work with the capsule in outdoor conditions, the drill allowed NASA engineers to discover what kind of motion the astronauts could expect after splashdown. (Cape Canaveral report by TSgt. Paul Flipse)