347 RQG supports NASA operations

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Benjamin Williams and Senior Airman Whitney Gillespie
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

The 347th Rescue Group provided rescue capability in support of NASA and the first Crewed Flight Test of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner that launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, June 5, 2024.

This is part of a regularly occurring rotation of rescue forces to support space flight programs through Air Force’s Space (AFSPACE) Detachment 3 for potential disasters upon launch or returning to Earth’s surface. This was the first time since 1968 astronauts were launched from Cape Canaveral and the first time ever from a Space Force installation.

“Team Moody's role in this launch is to forward stage and provide short-notice contingency rescue coverage during all phases of the spaceflight, focusing mostly on long-range maritime search and rescue,” said Capt. James Eason, 38th Rescue Squadron, Red Team commander. “Moody's pararescue teams, HC-130s, and HH-60s will be on alert to make sure that if anything goes wrong during the spaceflight, we can go out and bring the crew back home.”

The pararescue experts from Moody undergo intense training to prepare for these high-stakes missions.

“We spent two weeks at Cape Canaveral training on both the SpaceX and Boeing capsules making sure we can safely stabilize and work on the spacecraft in the water, get the crew out, provide medical treatment and get them a ride back home,” Eason explained. “In addition to all the rotary-wing, maritime, medical and jump training we normally do, it makes our team an ideal fit for this mission set.”

In support of this specific launch, Moody’s rescue forces forward staged at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, to be ready for immediate deployment if a rescue operation were needed. This readiness involved a heightened alert status and coordination with military, space and commercial agencies across the U.S., the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.

“Events like this help build relationships with other bases due to the amount of organization and communication it takes to make this possible,” said Airman 1st Class Kelsey Brown, 71st Rescue Generation Squadron HC-130J avionics journeyman. “Not only does our team need to be prepared, but we are also counting on other units to do their part in this rocket launch. It involves trust, teamwork and training to ensure these missions happen smoothly.”

The partnership between the Department of Defense and NASA has supported the success of joint space missions, from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects to the Space Shuttle Program and the International Space Station/Soyuz Program.

Future rotations of this support will cycle back to Moody Airmen, so the requirement for the training for this high-risk mission never ceases. The various U.S. governmental agencies will continue to work together to reduce risk to force and mission for every space launch.