CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (AFNS) -- Six pararescuemen from Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., conducted recovery testing on a mockup of NASA's next-generation spacecraft March 8 at the Trident Turn Basin here.
The team of pararescuemen from the Air Force Reserve's 920th Rescue Wing deployed an inflatable flotation collar during the test of the Orion crew exploration vehicle, NASA's replacement for the space shuttle.
Master Sgts. Robert Smith, Chris Seinkner, Matt Roche, Jeffrey McManus and Kenneth Surrey, along with Senior Airman Richard Boyd deployed the collar designed to stabilize the capsule after it lands in water that provides a platform for recovery personnel to stand on during the operation.
The operation, called the Post-landing Orion Recovery Test, or PORT, allowed the PJs to test the capsule in outside conditions, and also for NASA personnel to discover what kind of motion astronauts can expect after landing.
Air Force pararescuemen will be the first on scene after a splashdown and will be responsible for recovery and immediate, post-landing medical treatment of all astronauts.
According to NASA, Orion is targeted to begin carrying humans to the International Space Station in 2015 and to the moon by 2020. Orion is part of the NASA's Constellation Program.
Members of the 920th Rescue Wing provides first-response medical, contingency, rescue and recovery support for all space shuttle launches. Air Force pararescuemen have provided astronaut recovery support to NASA as far back as the Mercury program, and were the first on scene to help legendary astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin Gus Grissom from their space capsules.