Recovery and Rescue Teams Practice with Full-Size Crew Dragon Trainer

Dragon water recovery training (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — SpaceX, NASA and Air Force personnel who will help astronauts out of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft returning from a mission to the International Space Station have begun practicing for that using a full-size model of the spacecraft. In certain unusual recovery situations, SpaceX may need to work with the U.S. Air Force to send parajumpers to recover astronauts from the capsule in the water.

Recently, the Recovery Trainer was lowered into the Indian River Lagoon near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center so Air Force pararescue and others could learn techniques for getting aboard the spacecraft and rescuing the astronauts.

Such rescue practice is typical of all human missions because it gives astronauts and support teams many opportunities to practice and refine the critical steps in safely rescuing the crew in a contingency situation. A number of procedures will be developed and then practiced over time to deal with recoveries in many different conditions.

SpaceX is developing the Crew Dragon in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. The Recovery Trainer was built by SpaceX and subsequently modified by Kennedy’s Prototype Lab to SpaceX specifications. The same dimensions as the outside mold line of a Crew Dragon, it has indicators where thrusters will be and other markings on the exterior. Inside, the crew area matches that of the operational spacecraft and includes an instrument panel.

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    They’re really rubbing the whole splashdown thing in our faces. I still haven’t recovered from the emotional stress of learning Dragon2 won’t land propulsively on land. SAD!

  • Jason Reimuller

    Even land nominal spacecraft like Soyuz practice water egress. By two orders of magnitude, the greatest probability of contingency landings happen after a pad or ascent abort, which generally puts you in water. Space architecture is designed around credible contingencies. Soyuz 23 even landed in a frozen lake.

  • dbooker

    Pretty funky looking. Like they just put a cloth costume on a super-sized barrel.

  • publiusr

    Heck–just sell that as a new bouncy house for kids!

  • Douglas Messier

    It’s likely that NASA had this story queued up for a while but couldn’t publish until SpaceX had acknowledged that propulsive landings weren’t going to happen.

  • Brainbit

    I think I will paint my life raft to look like this then if I have to use it I might get rescued quicker? Might give the service guys a shock though.