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Searchers, Swimmers Practice to Rescue Astronauts
06.01.07
 
Crews prep the man who will act as an astronaut during search exercises. Target for searchers.
NASA, the Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps took part in an expansive search-and-rescue exercise May 31 to practice retrieving a space shuttle crew. In the fictional scenario, a shuttle suffers a failure during launch that eventually prompts the crew to bail out over the Atlantic Ocean near NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Here, Coast Guard crews help suit technician Mike Dang suit up for his role in the practice. Photo credit: NASA/Troy Cryder
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A Coast Guard crew drops off a trainee acting as an astronaut for a rescue exercise. On his own.
Suited up in a pressure suit and survival gear similar to that worn by shuttle astronauts, Mike Dang is dropped off in the Atlantic Ocean to begin the search exercise. Dang, two other crew equipment technicians and four real-life astronauts acted as astronauts who had bailed out of the shuttle during an emergency. As they floated in small rafts, a host of aircraft, ships and helicopters hunted for them in the open ocean. Photo credit: NASA/Troy Cryder
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A Coast Guard Falcon jet takes part in search-and-rescue exercises at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The search begins.
A Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon jet sweeps over the waves May 31 during the first phases of the search and rescue exercise. Working a pattern several miles offshore of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, the aircraft's crew employed several search techniques, including some that let distress beacons from astronauts' pressure suits to guide them. An Air Force Reserve HC-130 from the 39th Rescue Squadron also took part in the aerial portion of the search. Photo Credit: NASA/Troy Cryder
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An Air Force HH-60 rescue helicopter pulls a pretend astronaut from the Atlantic Ocean during rescue exercises. 'Astronaut' rescued.
An HH-60 helicopter of the 920th Rescue Wing retrieves one of the astronaut participants from the Atlantic Ocean during a search exercise. During actual shuttle launches, the helicopters park at the Shuttle Landing Facility in case they have to rescue crew members. Four of the helicopters took part in the rescue exercise. They carried their normal launch-day crews of rescue swimmers trained to pull astronauts from the ocean, swamps or land. Photo Credit: NASA/Troy Cryder
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A Coast Guard launch returns to its mother ship. Exercise complete, crews return.
The small craft that dispatched Mike Dang to be rescued returns to its mother ship at the end of a search-and-rescue exercise. The seven people who acted as astronauts who had bailed out of a crippled space shuttle were found and retrieved as planned, according to Air Force officials who oversaw the training. Photo Credit: NASA/Troy Cryder
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Steven Siceloff
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center