News Nov 3, 2023

Supporting NASA’s First Open Ocean Test for the Crewed Artemis II Mission

NASA’s Artemis II mission will carry crew in the Orion space capsule for the first time. Ensuring the safety of the crew requires relentless focus and practice for every aspect of the mission from launch to splashdown.

As part of NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program (EGS) landing and recovery team, Jacobs’ employees have played a key role in developing the procedures and hardware that will be used for Orion crew capsule recovery operations for Artemis II. These NASA and Jacobs team members and partners from the Department of Defense (DOD) recently conducted an open-ocean rehearsal, or Underway Recovery Test-10 (URT), to verify the processes and equipment.

Diving in on how the crew successfully retrieved the crew after their successful mission

During the recovery test, the teams spent about a week on a Navy ship in the Pacific Ocean using a test capsule known as a Crew Module Test Article (CMTA) to validate the recovery operations processes for recovering the crew and getting them back to the ship safely. The CMTA sits in the well deck of the Navy landing Platform Dock ship, which is flooded to allow the capsule to be floated out into the open ocean, where Navy divers in inflatable boats rehearse the approach to the capsule and the extraction of the crew. The crew members are recovered from the capsule and onto an inflatable “front porch” before being picked up by helicopters and flown to the recovery ship. The divers then attach a winch line to the capsule and pull it into the flooded well deck. It’s drained, and the capsule is slowly lowered onto the stand without damaging the heat shield or any other hardware part.  Jacobs’ personnel designed and built the 15,000-pound CMTA stand for NASA at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), and the team oversees and runs the well-deck operations.

Behind the scenes with our team

Jacobs’ recovery team includes logistics personnel, technicians, operations staff and engineers supporting onshore and offshore operations. We assist in preparing the equipment for transport to and from California, setting up and breaking down the equipment on the ship and managing most of the hardware, tools and equipment used by the recovery crew during operations at sea. Our test conductors work with the NASA test conductor team to run the Landing & Recovery (L&R) operation, and the team provides quality control, ordnance safing and instrumentation support.

Ensuring the safe launch, orbit and return of the Artemis II crew is the top priority for the Jacobs team as they begin testing all crew modifications across the flight hardware, ground systems, software and procedures. For more information on the recovery operation, go to:

As the prime contractor at KSC for NASA's EGS program, Jacobs is responsible for receiving all Space Launch System and Orion flight hardware, assembling and integrating all the components, developing the launch control software, conducting final test and checkout, transporting the vehicle to the pad, supporting the launch and helping conclude the mission with the recovery of Orion.

The Critical Mission Solutions NASA portfolio spans nearly all centers, making Jacobs NASA's largest professional and technical services provider, supporting major programs for space exploration and lunar habitation and research, testing and facility support.