The US Navy's amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23) has successfully completed the third underway recovery test (URT-3) for Nasa's Orion programme.
Prior to the arrival of USS Anchorage at the recovery site off the Southern California coast, USNS Salvor (ARS 52) carried out a towing and recovery test, dubbed URT-4A, with Nasa's crew module prototype.
As part of the third at-sea testing of the Orion crew module using a well-deck recovery method, Salvor deployed the crew module into the open ocean using its crane, before Anchorage positioned itself to recover the module, accounting for the condition of the sea, wind and other environmental aspects.
Nasa recovery director Jeremy Graeber said: "We have a good understanding of the challenges we have ahead of us.
"We demonstrated how we would recover from a certain point of the timeline, executed the recovery and got the module into the well deck safely. We were focusing on putting ourselves into a realistic recovery."
With the first test executed aboard USS San Diego (LPD 22), the initial stationary recovery test was carried out onboard USS Arlington (LPD 24) at the Naval Station Norfolk, US, in August 2013.
The third underway recovery test is being managed by the navy's Expeditionary Strike Group Three, while the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight has been tasked with offering air support for observation and documentation.
As part of efforts to support Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One divers, sailors from the USS Anchorage have also been conducting small boat operations using rigid-hulled inflatable boats.
Fleet Weather Center San Diego monitored the conditions of the sea and weather during the trial.
Image: Navy divers assisting sailors from USS Anchorage in retrieving the forward bay cover during the underway recovery test (URT-4) for the Nasa Orion programme. Photo: courtesy of mass communication specialist 1st class Corey Green / released.