Space Shuttle Rescue Support

A little over a week ago we had the 35 Anniversary of the disaster of The Space Shuttle Challenger on 28 January 1986. Where we lost 7 astronauts

The The world was in shock!

Francis Richard Scobee, Commander
Michael J. Smith, Pilot
Ronald McNair, Mission Specialist
Ellison Onizuka, Mission Specialist
Judith Resnik, Mission Specialist
Gregory Jarvis, Payload Specialist
Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist

Many of the Air Rescue units worked together on a rotational basis ( just like we did in Iceland in providing in-flight refueling training for their rescue units helicopter pilots and in Saudi Arabia as well as anywhere we were needed around the world)

those units included

106th Rescue Wing based at Gabreski Airport in New York

Anchorage Alaska unit

And our unit in San Francisco CA.

along with Patrick Air Rescue Unit in Space Shuttle Rescue and Recovery of astronauts

Arriving at Patrick AFB.

Each unit would bring its own flight crews and Para-Rescue Jumpers and their equipment (which included Zodiac inflatable boats that they would launch out of the Rescue C-130 into the water and inflate with all the medical and rescue equipment needed

There was a requirement of 2 Rescue C130s to be on-station 24-72 hours prior to the Space Shuttle’s scheduled launch. (2 was required in case the primary Rescue C130 had an issue preventing it from launching they were a back-up.

If the back-up aircraft failed to be ready the Space Shuttle’s Mission would have to be scrubbed!

The aircraft needed to be fueled and ready to go, then locked and sealed-up until its scheduled launch time.

The procedure of the Rescue C130 was to launch in the direction of the projection of the Space Shuttle, 2 hours prior to the Space Shuttle’s launch.

At this time the Rescue aircraft would be in a position under the Space Shuttle as it launches overhead.

On the day of the launch, BOTH unit’s Rescue C130s engines needed to be started and the primary aircraft would taxi out and launch.

As for our mission, we were the back-up aircraft and both aircraft started their engines when the primary Rescue C130 called in with a malfunction and we took over as primary Rescue Aircraft.

We took off on schedule and the Space Shuttle did as well.

2 hours of flight later we were in position ready for a Space Shuttle Crew Rescue.

The Shuttle flew over us without an incident and we returned to Patrick AFB, our mission was complete.

Oh, after the Rescue Aircraft was fueled and sealed, 2 of my crew member friends and I had some free time on our hands so we went to Disneyworld. How bad can it be?

Before I go, I wanted to point out that an exercise, known as Mode VIII, the NASA designation for an astronaut bailout of the space shuttle,
Is still conducted to ensure their readiness to support upcoming Space Shuttle launches therefore
“The ability of search and rescue forces to locate, recover, and provide medical treatment for astronauts following an open ocean bailout.”


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