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NASA, Navy Test Space Capsule Recovery in Norfolk

AP Photo / U.S. Navy, Seaman Andrew Schneider

AP Photo / U.S. Navy, Seaman Andrew Schneider

August 15, 2013

The Navy and NASA are testing out how they'll recover astronauts once they splash down in the ocean following future missions to deep space.

On Thursday, a team of Navy divers and the crew of the USS Arlington practice retrieving a mock-up of the Orion space capsule from waters at Naval Station Norfolk.

The Navy hasn't been used to recover astronauts since 1975, when the USS New Orleans recovered the Apollo spacecraft. After that, astronauts began returning to Earth via the space shuttle. Once the space shuttle program was shuttered, U.S. astronauts began hitching rides aboard a Russian rocket that lands in a Kazakhstan desert.

Unlike in past recovery efforts, the Navy doesn't plan to use helicopters to retrieve Orion. Instead, a wench will pull the spacecraft into the Arlington's well deck.


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