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Members of the US military are expected to practice recovery operations for NASA’s many spacecraft, like the Orion.
Orion was designed by Lockheed Martin and Airbus to withstand the immense strain of multiple trips to space. Like other space capsules before, the Orion is programmed to crash into the ocean when it returns back to Earth. Though it may seem practical, the Orion can actually only float for a short amount of time.
After it “landed” near USS Portland, US Navy divers and NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems deployed small boats from the amphibious warship to recover the capsule. The divers then inspected the vessel for any hazards before hooking it up.
Inspecting the vessel first is essential since the capsule entered the atmosphere at 25,000 mph, which produces temperatures of around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once done, the sailors and specialists hauled Orion into Portland’s well deck. Flooded well decks are perfect for such objects since the large open deck at the stern can easily house the heavy capsule.