Astronaut recovery task force more capable after airlift exercise

Hawaii and California ANG Airmen are improving their ability to rescue fallen astronauts after completing a search and rescue training scenario held outside of Moffett Federal Airfield September 4-12.

The training is part of an ongoing series of emergency drills to ensure that fallen astronauts receive assistance in the event of an unplanned landing deep in the Pacific or Atlantic.

The unique mission kit includes the rapid dispatch of a Guardian Angel rescue team and survival gear supplied by C-17 Globemaster III operators of the 204th Division.

While primary and secondary scenarios involve the recovery of space capsules from commercial crew providers, the C-17’s airlift capabilities can deliver aid to sparse destinations around the world significantly faster than other platforms.

The use of the Globemaster as a rescue platform is a recent adaptation of the DoD and is operated exclusively by ANG units in Hawaii and Alaska to support NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Rescue scenarios are tested several times a year to train a growing number of qualified personnel and develop tactics, techniques and procedures.

Members of the 131st California ANG Rescue Squadron have partnered with 204th AS to plan and execute a “complete mission profile” for this iteration of training, culminating in a sequence of all major recovery steps from start to finish.

“We have built a great relationship with the 131st Rescue Squadron, the experts in rescue at sea in the Pacific,” said Lt. Col. Brittan Komine, 204th AS Director of Operations. “They have a lot of experience that they have gained while carrying out their government mission of emergency ship and ocean rescue. These pararescuemen are adept at operating in dynamic environments and must be prepared for any situation. On the other hand, our community is used to conscious planning. Our support for a fallen astronaut will be very dynamic, and we have been able to do that here. “

Participants dedicated a new academic section to their rescue curriculum, spanning several days of briefings, plans, and discussions to prepare responders for all of the predictable outcomes that can occur when astronauts travel to space and back to Earth.

Key personnel from NASA’s manned spaceflight emergency programs at Johnson Space Center, Texas attended to administer the academics, develop best practices, support the FMP, and report on progress made for upcoming operations.

“When we started there really was no training curriculum; We had to start from scratch ”, Lt. Col. Tim Saxton, Detachment 3.1st Air Force, NASA Liaison, “So over the past two years we’ve developed many products for you to look at to learn more about the mission. It is good to see how it progresses; We definitely have a long way to go to get to this point and it’s great to see the C-17 flight crew grow as a community. “

The academic process has been curated to ensure that all participating agencies can work together as a seamless workforce recovery task force, using overlapping communication systems, and understanding what to expect in the future.

The members became familiar with all protocols in order to convey information to and from the capsule, to defuse aircraft within the airspace, to establish command of the scene, to harmonize with the associated air patrols and to have quick departure plans with the designated Guardian Angel Pararescue Team to coordinate.

“During our academic class, the ‘crawl phase’, we relied various actions on the target so that everyone was well prepared for the implementation,” said Komine. “We were also able to deal with the 130. The role of the OSC is a new endeavor for our squadron, but of great importance for this mission. You basically run the show; Talk to the astronaut, manage the other assets and return them to “C2″ (command and control). It is exciting to take on this responsibility. ”

In addition to rationalizing the skills of the rescue team, the personnel of the 154th Logistics Readiness Squadron is also gaining new professional skills to support the rescue mission.

Airlift Airmen play a mission-critical role in assembling and inspecting several tons of rescue equipment on the aircraft to ensure that enough medical supplies, food and rescue vehicles can sustain the lives of drifting astronauts for several days while they drift at sea.

While the Air Transport Guards at JBPH-H have traditionally been dedicated to assisting combat missions at their home base, they are now in the process of qualifying for routine airdrop duties.

“I feel that with these new skills we are developing, we are adding more value to our unit and more capabilities that can be applied to this NASA mission and have the potential to be used in all sorts of scenarios,” said Tech. Sgt. Dennis Dedicatoria, 154th LRS Air Transport NCO. “This gives us the opportunity to become self-sustaining instead of having to rely on the availability of external agencies every time.”

Airmen from California and Hawaii rounded off their week of expert exchange with a series of sequential FMP scenarios in which a staged crew of astronauts drifted in the Santa Cruz drop zone and off the fully loaded C-17. Package with Guardian Angel members should be salvaged.

The training week was designed to validate overall rescue skills for a task at the national level. The exercise planners made the best use of every flight opportunity to check off the annual training requirements for the participating members in order to ensure cost-effective operation.

To reduce training costs, the Hawaii flight crew used their proximity to the units on the mainland to support additional training drops with US Navy SEALs and pararescuemers in Southern California a few days before the FMP.

Since the CCP resumed manned space flights on U.S. soil in May 2020, the crew of the 204th

After completing a week of irreplaceable training, the Airmen exchanged farewell gifts to reaffirm their growing partnership and share elements of their culture. Airmen from Hawaii presented the Guardian Angel team with an ali’i (a traditional Hawaiian war club) that was labeled with graphics representing the two units and words that emphasize their unity as an ‘ohana (family in the Hawaiian language).

This joint mission with the Guardian Angel Skydivers proves that the parachutists’ motto sums up the whole purpose of their training together – ‘That others can live’.

Recording date: December 09, 2021
Release Date: 09/14/2021 9:38 PM
Story ID: 405269
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