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U.S. Space Command and NASA Successfully Complete Underway Recovery Test-11

  • Published
  • By Michael Sparks
  • CONR-1AF (AFNORTH and AFSPACE) Detachment 3

NAVAL STATION SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Air Forces Space, under the direction of U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) and in coordination with the U.S. Navy and NASA, has achieved another significant milestone for space exploration with the successful completion of Underway Recovery Test (URT) 11. This critical simulation involved the Artemis II crew and was conducted aboard the USS San Diego off the coast of San Diego on Feb. 28.

Lt. Col. Kevin Pieper, director of the First Air Force, Detachment 3 Artemis Program, emphasized the test’s importance, saying, “Previous Underway Recovery Tests have perfected the procedures and techniques used by NASA and the DoD to recover the Orion crew module from the water. URT-11 made the next key step by incorporating the Artemis II crew into the operation to finalize the methods that will safely recover the astronauts following their mission to the moon.”

As the DoD’s Human Space Flight Support manager, USSPACECOM is tasked with the terrestrial rescue and recovery of NASA-sponsored astronauts and spacecraft. This specialized support includes pre-positioning rescue forces, ensuring unique communication abilities, and orchestrating the recovery of crewed space flight assets.

“The DoD has been conducting human space flight support operations for over six decades with each new mission presenting new challenges to overcome,” said Pieper. “This underway recovery test emphasizes the vital relationships between NASA, U.S. Space Command, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Navy, and Air Forces Space, all of whom play an important role in advancing spaceflight in the 21st Century and laying the foundation for future human exploration of the moon, Mars, and beyond.”

First Air Force, Detachment 3, has been instrumental in providing support to NASA since 1958. Serving as the air component for USSPACECOM, the detachment coordinates DoD support for NASA’s Artemis, Commercial Crew, and Soyuz programs. During crewed flights, Detachment 3 positions alert rescue forces at strategic locations to respond to potential contingencies.

The partnership between the DoD and NASA has been pivotal in the success of joint space missions, from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo projects to the Space Shuttle Program and the International Space Station/Soyuz Program.

The completion of URT-11 with the Artemis astronauts marks a major milestone, ensuring that future crewed Artemis flights will have safe and effective recovery operations. This exercise demonstrates the readiness and capability of both NASA and USSPACECOM to conduct successful recovery missions for the upcoming space explorations.