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The complexity of the recovery operations for the Orion spacecraft created useful lessons on partnerships between two government agencies.

Melissa Jones, the Landing and Recovery Director at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, speaks about the issues and advantages of having two large interagency partners, NASA and the DoD, cooperating during recovery operations for the Orion Program. The careful planning and close coordination that goes into making the partnership a success is explained in the short video clip.

Video key learning points:

  1. 1.

    During recovery efforts, you are at the mercy of the ocean environment and are using a ship you don’t own.

  2. 2.

    NASA uses a lot of DoD resources for the recovery efforts, such as helicopters, medical personnel, weather personnel, and divers.

  3. 3.

    Having agreements in place at the NASA Headquarters and Pentagon level helps to get the specific support from DoD that is needed for the recovery operations.

  4. 4.

    The know-how from the Apollo recovery operations is very valuable since Orion is recovered in a lot of similar environments. A key team member for the Orion recovery team was the director of Apollo recovery efforts and brings a wealth of knowledge about various situations and rules that can be valuable to Orion recovery planning. This is a great example of how knowledge and lessons from the past can help with current and future work and why it is so valuable to learn from our past and capture key knowledge from people.

  5. 5.

    Doing tests using vehicle pieces that are as similar as possible to the actual capsule the DoD is going to recover is important to make sure there are no surprises for the recovery team.

  6. 6.

    There is a process to make sure that all of the pyros on the spacecraft have been expended, and there are procedures in place to mitigate any unexpended pyros on the vehicle.

  7. 7.

    Tests are conducted to make sure there are no hazardous chemicals in the environment of the recovery, and if there are, the team waits until the hazards dissipate. The landing and recovery team is working on ideas to help ventilate and rinse the craft from hazardous chemicals at a faster rate so the recovery isn’t delayed.

Related Resources

Melissa Jones Bio

NASA Exploration Ground Systems

NASA Blog: Ground Systems Development and Operations Program

Melissa Jones Video Playlist

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