USS Anchorage Completes NASA Orion Mission, Returns to San Diego
The Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) recovery is part of a U.S. government interagency effort to safely retrieve the Orion crew module that is capable of carrying humans into deep space.
EFT-1 is the fifth at-sea testing for the module using a Navy well deck recovery method. There were four tests conducted prior to EFT-1 to prepare the recovery team. The first test, a stationary recovery test, was conducted at Naval Station Norfolk last summer. The other tests were conducted underway aboard the USS San Diego (LPD 22) and Anchorage earlier this year.
LPD-class ships have well-decks, advanced medical facilities, embarked helicopters, three dimensional air-search radar and small boats that can all be leveraged during recovery operations.
Safety was a priority as Sailors rehearsed for the recovery using a mock-up of the Orion module that was deployed from the ship’s well deck and recovered by Navy divers and small boats.
Anchorage utilized a specially-trained bridge team throughout the duration of the recovery. After the capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, the ship maneuvered close to it, along with small boats, to retrieve the equipment safely. Divers attached lines from the small boats to guide the capsule toward Anchorage, where a NASA-designed winch hauled the capsule into the well deck. Since Orion is meant to be reused, keeping the capsule safe is a priority during recovery.
NASA is embarking on a new era of space exploration. Orion is America’s next-generation spacecraft that will take astronauts to new destinations never explored by humans. It will carry crews to distant planetary bodies, provide emergency abort capabilities, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space.