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    Detachment 3, AFSPACE makes historic splash with Artemis recovery off Baja California coast

    Detachment 3, AFSPACE makes historic splash with Artemis recovery off Baja California coast

    Photo By Lt. Col. David Mahan | Members of Air Forces Space's Detachment 3 oversaw the successful recovery of the...... read more read more



    Story by Michael Dougherty 


    TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Proving practice makes perfect, members of Air Forces Space's Detachment 3 oversaw the successful recovery of the Artemis 1 Orion capsule after its splashdown in the Pacific Ocean Dec. 11. This was following its 1.4 million-mile, 25-day journey, including 10 days of lunar orbit.

    This was the first voyage of NASA’s Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System mega rocket, the most powerful rocket in history. The Orion capsule is designed for human deep spaceflight, including to the Moon and Mars.

    The recovery occurred on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 17 -- the final manned mission to the moon which landed on its surface Dec. 11, 1972. Det. 3, based at Patrick Space Force Base, Fla., brought to the table nearly seven decades of experience in Human Space Flight Support -- beginning with the Mercury program, through Gemini, Apollo, the Space Shuttle, Soyuz, the Commercial Crew Program and now Artemis.

    “Det 3 personnel continue to play a vital role in our country’s storied explorations in space. With the successful recovery of the Orion capsule, our nation has entered a new age of space exploration. The Air Force’s Space’s Det 3 is proud to support NASA in that endeavor, as our country returns to the moon and beyond,” said Lt. Gen. Kirk Pierce, AFSPACE commander.

    The larger recovery team consisted of a wide array of military and interagency partners, for which Det 3 was central to many of its operations. To prepare for the splashdown, the detachment spent much of the year training other members of the team. Det 3 trained a team of U.S. Navy Divers to install specialized hardware on the spacecraft to facilitate recovery, and to breach the spacecraft to rescue astronauts, if necessary, in future Artemis missions, according to Mr. Mike “Tank” McClure, Det 3’s director of Human Space Flight Support.

    Det members also familiarized the officers and crew of the USS Portland, a U.S. Navy Landing Platform Deck (LPD) amphibious assault ship, on procedures to recover the spacecraft, and trained U.S. Navy helicopter crews in how to spot and recover ancillary pieces of the spacecraft that separate during descent following atmosphere entry, said McClure. On land, Det members also trained support personnel in HAZMAT, fire, civil engineering and other hazard response procedures at Naval Base San Diego, where the spacecraft was taken following recovery.

    Experts from Det 3 arrived on site well-before splashdown, both on the USS Portland and at the San Diego naval base. One of them shared an eyewitness account of the actual recovery from aboard the Portland, along with his thoughts on its significance.

    "Growing up watching the Space Shuttle, it was an honor to be a part of this historic mission. The combined NASA, Navy, and Det 3 team has been preparing for this event since the beginning of the Orion program, which dates back to 2011. It was amazing to watch all of that planning and just-in-time training in action during splashdown and recovery," said Lt. Col. Dave Mahan, Artemis program director, Human Space Flight Support, Air Forces Space, Detachment 3.

    Mahan grew up on Florida's "Space Coast," which encompasses the Kennedy Space Center, Patrick Space Force Base, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and the surrounding communities. He joined the Air Force, and nine assignments later, he will finish where it all began, supporting the crewed space flight missions he had watched as a child.

    For all crewed space flights, Det. 3 oversees postured rescue forces on alert at Patrick SFB, Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The rescue teams are tasked to rescue and recover astronauts from capsules that splashdown in the ocean during crewed space operations. The team trains in the intricacies of space medicine, dealing with deconditioned astronauts, hazard detection techniques to safe the capsule, and procedures for extracting the crew from the spacecraft.



    Date Taken: 12.11.2022
    Date Posted: 12.26.2022 18:08
    Story ID: 435861

    Web Views: 239
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