NORFOLK, Va. —
The Navy and NASA have completed their first tests showcasing how they’ll recover astronauts from the ocean following future missions to deep space.
On Thursday, a team of Navy divers and the crew of the USS Arlington retrieved 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 didn’t use helicopters to retrieve Orion. Instead, a winch pulled the spacecraft into the Arlington’s well deck.