Trial by Water
NASA tests the seaworthiness of its new moonship.
- By Rebecca Maksel
- AirSpaceMag.com, April 27, 2009
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division
“If there’s a problem, and that capsule lands somewhere in the world between 51.6 [degrees] North and South, [NASA] wants to know that we can rescue the astronauts in 24 hours or less, which is a huge challenge,” says Commander Andy Quiett, of the Department of Defense, who leads NASA’s launch and recovery group. The DoD is responsible for handling recovery contingencies from launch until the Orion capsule is docked to the International Space Station—a span of two or three days. The DoD team would have two Zodiac boats loaded with equipment (such as the flotation collar and the sea anchor) on a 24-hour alert, able to launch with an hour’s notice. Rescuers would carry a small bottle on their leg with a 30-minute supply of air, although, says Quiett, “We don’t know right now how long it will be before the capsule is determined safe.”