Planetary Radio • Jan 31, 2018

Going to Sea to Sail Through Space: Orion Ocean Recovery Testing

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On This Episode

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Stephen Bowen

Astronaut for NASA

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Captain Dennis Jacko

Commanding Officer for USS Anchorage

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Melissa Jones

NASA Landing and Recovery Director for the Exploration Ground Systems Program

Join Mat Kaplan on a visit to Naval Base San Diego and the USS Anchorage, the amphibious ship that has just completed a round of Orion spacecraft recovery testing and practice. You’ll hear from the NASA Recovery Director Melissa Jones, the Commanding Officer of the Anchorage and veteran astronaut Stephen Bowen. Planetary Society Digital Editor Jason Davis says we are learning how to recognize signs of life on distant exoplanets. Bruce Betts knows What’s Up in the night sky.

Simulated Orion crew module recovery
Simulated Orion crew module recovery US Navy divers assist NASA and the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD-23) in recovery of a mock-up capsule designed to roughly simulate the size, shape, mass and center of gravity of the Orion crew module.Image: US Navy
Orion test article inside the USS Anchorage
Orion test article inside the USS Anchorage During Underway Recovery Test 6, Kennedy Space Center’s NASA Recovery Team spent a week aboard the USS Anchorage where they and the U.S. Navy tested procedures and ground support equipment to improve recovery procedures and hardware ahead of Orion’s next flight, Exploration Mission-1, when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean. The Orion test article sits inside the well deck of the USS Anchorage after a successful recovery test Jan. 22.Image: NASA / Bill White
Mat Kaplan and the Orion Capsule Mock-up at Naval Base San Diego
Mat Kaplan and the Orion Capsule Mock-up at Naval Base San Diego Image: Mat Kaplan

This week's question:

What type of rocket launched the first US satellite, Explorer 1?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, February 7th at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What are the names of Neptune’s five principal rings?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

What was the first in space docking of two robotic (unmanned) spacecraft?


The first docking of two unmanned spacecraft was the rendezvous of the Soviet Kosmos 186 and Kosmos 188 on October 30, 1967.