Defense

August 19, 2013

USS Arlington hosts NASA spacecraft recovery tests

Tags:
PO1 Eric Brown
Norfolk, Va.

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.

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 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.

Sailors aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) recover an Orion capsule into the well deck of Arlington during an exercise as part of NASA’s first key Orion stationary recovery test at Naval Station Norfolk. NASA is partnering with the U.S. Navy to develop procedures to recover the Orion capsule and crew after splashdown.

“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.

“My crew and I are very proud to continue the legacy of Arlington and the NASA space program,” Nelson said.

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 war fighting 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 war fighting 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.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 24, 2015

News: More than $1 billion in U.S. emergency reconstruction aid goes missing in Afghanistan - A total of $1.3 billion that the Pentagon shipped to its force commanders in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2014 for the most critical reconstruction projects can’t be accounted for by the Defense Department, 60 percent of all such spending under an...
 
 

News Briefs April 24, 2015

German defense minister: widely used rifle has no future A widely used assault rifle has “no future” with the German military in its current form, Germany’s defense minister said April 22, escalating a dispute over the weapon’s alleged shortcomings. Ursula von der Leyen said last month that a study showed the G36 rifle has a...
 
 
Army photograph

Composites key to tougher, lighter armaments

Army photograph XM-360 test firing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in 2007, is shown. The Army is on the cusp of revolutionizing materials that go into armament construction, making for stronger, lighter and more durable weapo...
 

 

Northrop Grumman signs long-term agreement with Raytheon

Northrop Grumman has entered a long-term agreement with Raytheon to supply its LN-200 Inertial Measurement Unit for Raytheon optical targeting systems. The long-term agreement with Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business extends through 2018. The LN-200 provides camera stabilization on optical targeting systems that conduct long-range surveillance and target acquisition for various...
 
 

NTTR supports first F-35B integration into USMC’s weapons school exercise

The Nevada Test and Training Range was part of history April 21, when four U.S. Marine Corps-assigned F-35B Lightning IIs participated in its first Marine Corps’ Final Exercise of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course on the NTTR’s ranges. The Final Exercise, or FINEX, is the capstone event to the U.S. Marine Corps Marine Aviation...
 
 
AAR-Textron

AAR awarded new contract from Bell Helicopter Textron to support T64 engines

AAR announced April 22 that Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. awarded its Defense Systems & Logistics business unit a contract providing warehouse and logistics services in support of upgrading T64 engines for the Bell V-280 Val...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>