NASA Needed Thousands of Men to Recover its Astronauts

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The companion blog to this episode is over at Medium:

#AmyShiraTeitel #History #Space

  1. Bear Lemley

    Seems to be one or two more staff than SpaceX uses for recovery of four NASA astronauts

  2. Ulf Henriksson

    In one Mercury landing they forgot to calculate with the rotation of the earth, so it was a bit of.

  3. M G

    I was deeply involved with the recovery of the first ORION Capsule on the EFT-1 mission (basically an Apollo 4 analog). We needed 1 ship for the recovery, however, NASA management insisted on two being on the scene. The primary recovery ship was the USS ANCHORAGE (an LPD-17 class Amphibious Assault ship) and the backup ship was the USS SALVOR (a salvage ship). Three helicopters were deployed with the ANCHORAGE. Total personnel on scene at the recovery was in the neighborhood of 800 including NASA and Navy personnel. I was aboard ANCHORAGE.

    When I left NASA, one ship stationed halfway between the primary and backup recovery zones was the standard model. The ship cruises to the down-selected recovery site 24 hours before splashdown to gather meteorological data for the flight dynamics team at JSC so they can update the guidance and control with the latest data.

    This may sound expensive and like overkill, but the LPD has medical facilities that are as good if not better than most land-based hospitals. Add to this the fact that the cost to NASA is only the cost of fuel (the sailors get paid by the Navy anyway as this is just another part of their standard job) and we got a pretty good bargain.

    Yes, SpaceX uses one or two small boats, but the ORION capsule is nearly half again larger than Crew Dragon and weighs much more. We studied this in great detail. The Navy’s LPD is the best option for ORION.

    By the way, it was a pleasure going to sea with the US Navy.

  4. Matt Perdeck

    Looking at the trajectories, a capsule that didn’t land in the planned zone could theoretically come down on land (such as Australia). What would have happened then?

  5. Jimmy Esparon

    Engineers doing calculations with a slide rule, amazing.

  6. Andy Wolf

    I once had the autograph of Jencke, the frogman who first made it to and rapped his fist on the hatch of Apollo 13.

    My ex has it now.

  7. Don Rimel

    My uncle was an Engineering Officer on the USS Hornet during the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12. He knew I was very interested in the space program and shared his experience. Thank you for your content.

  8. bobloblaw

    This is the first time that I have seen one of your presentations….. Brilliant! Thank you for sharing……

  9. pizzafrenzyman

    Why didn’t the former Soviet Union opt to use the Pacific for its reentries?

  10. Eddie Kulp

    It’s not a comparison , an aircraft carrier just happens to have 2,000 sailors

  11. Michael K Wooderson

    Amy, you are the bomb… Not just saying.

  12. OverRide

    You put Gemini 9: 5 ships, when you’re talking about 15. Which one’s right?

  13. TheHylianBatman

    The logistic sorting is always the most difficult.

  14. Malcolm Pemberton

    Absolutely fascinating as always. Great video and keep em coming! :-)

  15. Donald Parlett jr

    Heck, they kept the Navy in practice for sea search and rescues. By the way Amy, your rockin’ that dress beautifully today😎👍

  16. Properfunny

    I like how Apollo 13 had that sudden jump in available ships. It shows just how serious that incident was, that they didn’t know where it could come down.

  17. Francis Pitts

    Part of what I did while serving in the Marine Corps was rescue downed Naval and Marine Aviators. We operated out of a CH53E Sea Stallion or the SE-3 Sea King helicopters. It’s dangerous for the pilots to be in the ocean because of everything from hypothermia to drowning. Most worked out well with no problems but occasionally something would complicate the process. We thankfully never lost anyone. At least I felt a lot of responsibility for getting them back onboard or land safely and back to normal operations. I knew some of the other crews weren’t as fortunate to be able to say that. It weighed heavily on them too. As a kid watching the Apollo program from age 4 to the early 70’s I can say it was part of the inspiration for my joining the Marine Corps and going into the Air Wing and fire/rescue field. I went into the Philadelphia Fire Department upon my discharge and after a couple years switched to the Police Department spending the next 36 years doing that.

    I’m so glad that I found this channel. You are able to hold my attention and keep everything interesting. I leave knowing that definitely learned something new. I appreciate the time and effort that you put into these videos 😊

  18. Schardt Cinematic Product

    I wonder how many ships are used to recover the new Space X Dragon Capsules and how many for Bezos oh wait he hasn’t even made it to orbit yet. Lol


    Hello Amy, I watch for education but also for your unique amazing style. Nobody does it like you. :-)

  20. Michael Esch

    So in the early 2000’s I was on a US Navy cruiser tasked with recovery of space shuttle astronauts in case of emergency bail out. The launch kept getting scrubbed. So we kept going back and forth from from home port to the middle of the Atlantic. ~300 Sailors

  21. david riley

    The sound is still distorted on your channel. It is a pre upload fault (ie source record or post/edit) – Otherwise love the content; fascinating as always

  22. Paul Brown

    I really enjoyed this, thank you so much……cheers from central Florida, Paul

  23. Hailfire08

    Are your books in audiobook form and if so, do you read them?

  24. Icantdrive55

    We need more Amy in our lives!!! 😁

  25. pforce9

    You have to talk about the moon lander that Jeff Bezos proposed. That was a real “Vintage Moon Lander”. That thing looks like he cheated and copied his plans from the 1969 Moon lander so no one is more qualified to report on that ship than you. By the way, nice dress.

  26. Jeremy Hogue

    Does the 8,000 men total include the carrier airwing, which is separate from the ship’s crew?

  27. Cern Green

    Not all the splashdowns went perfectly. In 1961, in the Liberty Bell 7, Grissom’s hatch prematurely blew off, letting seawater in. He quickly swam out to avoid drowning and was rescued. That capsule was on the bottom of the ocean until 1999 when it was recovered. Gus was not as lucky in the Apollo 1 capsule, where he died in the a fire.

  28. sten1939

    Would love to hear one of these in French (well Québécois French :-))

  29. Steven Clarke

    Thanks Amy another great video, missing Pete , I hope he’s doing ok.

  30. PhantomMarquis

    These are things most of us never really considered in-depth—all the facets of why and how the ocean was the choice—thank you!

  31. Matthew Suffidy

    It is almost a more difficult problem, but you could make like a Concorde sort of thing that could fly along and then turn into a Harrier and rope it in and fly back more slowly. Hey maybe the shuttle didn’t suck so bad it always turned up in one place and could fix Hubbles.

  32. IndisputableFacts

    I’ve got a feeling that when the Navy was asked for help in picking up the astronauts, they didn’t bother to ask if NASA wanted fries with that. They just gave ’em the fries and a supersized milk shake.

  33. Marc K

    That was a great video and I found it very interesting. I have a question that relates to the topic but isn’t vintage. How many recovery ships are used for the Crewed Dragon’s return?
    Marc K

  34. Glen Clark

    Could you do a video on Scott Carpenter’s splash down. It was some 250 miles off target if I remember.

  35. Mark Steven

    Very, very interesting & informative! Great now to know how many ships were involved in each mission during that era. Very well researched & thanks for putting that video together!!

  36. David Woollard

    Great presentation. I was alive during Mercury, Gemini and Apollo to see these splashdowns, although not always in real time.

  37. Simon Hamermesh

    “Some kind of parasail or maneuverable parachute”…. wink😉

  38. muchotone

    Great historical content and detailed research in this video to contrast the Branson and Bezos achievements coming soon. And what a great dress!

  39. Helium Road

    STS still had ships to recover the SRBs, and the Falcon 9 usually has ships to recover landed boosters.

  40. Chris

    Gotta love this lady’s sense of style 👌

  41. Mitchell Jakubka

    Love all your videos Amy, keep it up!

  42. Mugen Steel

    I always thought it funny they called it a landing when it was far from it. You cannot have a landing without land come guys it’s not like it’s rocket sci… They had to break the mole didn’t they? Don’t get me started on splash down. Down? Really?

  43. Peter Bristol

    Hey Amy, what’s your opinion of the James Webb telescope?

  44. Matthew Litke

    I never understood why it’s called a couch not a chair or a seat

  45. Sgt Mjr

    Capsules vs Aircraft. Capsules= ‘Spam in a can’ if you listened to Yeager et al but one look at a Mercury capsule in the Air and Space Museum made me think ol’ Chuck was right.

  46. John Smith

    Would be cool if space x would invite you to go up into space 😊

  47. Orxenhorf

    Uhm… I think you got confused by the “anti-sub destroyer” in the list and the crew count section where you mention the crew count of a submarine.

  48. gmat6594 gmat6594

    Very informative and interesting. No love for the USAF (ARIA and ARRS and WRS) and land based USN aircraft also deployed? Thank you.

  49. Willie Koorts

    Wow Amy! That was really interesting! I never thought of this component of spaceflight! Thanks for the effort!

  50. Ryan Butler

    One of the main reasons the US could devote so many carriers is they built an astronomical number during WWII. 24 Essex class along with 3 Midway carriers were completed during or eight after the war. Along with 4 Forrestals and the Enterprise before the space race got going. The US literally had more carriers than they know what to do with. So just stringing a few along catching astronauts didn’t impact their readiness for war in any way.


    on the face of it, its not my cup of tea” but lots of facts i didnt know, so thanks, excellent” cheers.

  52. MrAlexwoolf

    Gemini 9, illustration says 5 ships, you said 15 ships, I assume 15 was correct?

  53. Glen Hunt

    That’s funny, every time you mention Coles Notes you translate it into American. I giggle every time.

  54. k001daddy

    As they got better it makes sense the need for ships would go down. What I don’t get is the times it went UP after it had gone down.

  55. Guy H

    I remember seeing a documentary finding and lifting Liberty Bell out of the ocean…

  56. NicolSD

    I remember watching the astronauts walking out of the helicopters on aircraft carriers.

  57. Joseph Haas

    In future splashdowns, a Nimitz Class Carrier will have upwards of 6,000 crew…. About 2,000 ships crew, and 4,000 air wing.

  58. Bill Boyles

    I’m confused about the Norfolk, you used it (and said it was a sub) when counting crew numbers but didn’t list any subs among the recovery ships. Also, during the space race, Norfolk was the name of a destroyer. The SSN Norfolk wasn’t commissioned until the mid 80s. Am I missing something? Would a submarine even have been very useful in a recovery effort?

  59. Joseph Stevens

    Interesting… I never knew the USS Boxer would have been the primary recovery ship for Gemini 8. I always assumed it would have been the USS Wasp.

    Amy – why did the last two manned Mercury flights splashed down in the Pacific instead of the Atlantic. Did it have to do with the length of the mission and the orbital mechanics? I would be curious to know.

  60. A l'air libre! Ins Freie!

    what a phantastic picture of the x15 in the background… and signed by someone… i’m shure someone realy cool… as usual: phantastic video

  61. Timothy Hays

    Amy’s dress is giving me Arachnophobia, but it looks really good.

  62. Martin Frecks

    Why would they need 1000 men when one woman can do the work of 1000 men?

  63. Scott FW

    I’m still waiting for “NASA needs men to recover its thousands of astronauts”.

  64. SeanBZA

    Remember the earliest missions the safest spot to be was the target area, as guidance was less than perfect. Later on guidance got to the point that the spot chosen would be the spot the capsule landed.

  65. Mike's Tropical Tech

    Amy, when I heard that Wally is going up with Jeff Bezos I immediately thought of you. Please make a video with your thoughts on the flight and Wally’s incredible history, with a touch of the Mercury 13 that you’ve researched so well. Thanks!

  66. Antonio Maglione

    Hello Ms. Teitel,
    thanks for your video, it is highly appreciated…

  67. JohnFourtyTwo

    Most of those 6,000+ ships you said the Navy had after World War II were not warships but auxiliaries and small craft and other noncombatant vessels. Out of all those, the Navy only had about 1,000 actual warships.

    Nice video, you always do a great job.👍

  68. MJ

    One of my college calculus instructors was a PJ who trained for NASA recovery missions.

  69. Rainy Day

    Thank You very interesting 🧔

  70. Brayden Wegner

    I love the intro!

  71. Lee Brown

    my 3rd ship, USS Yosemite, was enroute to Mayport FL when Challenger blew up. We were diverted to the search area. So, the Navy was involved in shuttle missions

  72. Nommadd57

    More awesome content, as always! Thank you Amy!

  73. Michael Tennes

    Great job! 
    FYI: At time index 9:48 You said 15 ships for Gemini 9 but slide said 5/

  74. JohnFourtyTwo

    First time I head of Coles Notes was on Stargate SG-1 or Atlantis when Rodney made the comparison but I thought he said Cold Nose.😁

  75. Peter Anderson

    7:41 To put these numbers into another perspective, that’s about the same size as US Navy Task Force 17 during the Battle of the Coral Sea in WWII. Swap out some of the destroyers for armored cruisers and you’d have nearly the same composition.

  76. Simonize41

    Love the dress Amy.😎💜 Great episode!

  77. Andy Hale

    Matt Damon: “Hold my potatoes”.

  78. Walter Lang

    She presented a informative answer to the complexity of space travel. Very Well done and Thank You.

  79. FandersonUfo

    quite the tangled web you weave sometimes Amy – ty for the new vid – 🛸👽

  80. acm#1985

    Great work! I was always wondering how the splashdown zones where chosen and prepared.

  81. Fern Bedek

    Still have to love the Soviet method of land in the woods with equipment to fight off bears.

  82. Curium 96

    Yuri Gagarin had to call someone after he landed to get recovered

  83. MrMichaelXX

    You’re in the Halloween spirit already, I see. So am I. 🎃🕸️🕷️

  84. Vasile Sulica

    If I would trying to guess, the next video would be about that amazing women from Gemini 13th teams, finally going to space at 82 years age with first New Shepard crewed flight.

  85. sharplessguy

    Thanks for another great video. I especially enjoyed the Mercury capsule video where I could see the unadorned pressure vessel. I’d love more content/videos detailing early capsule construction. Also anything on John Aaron. Thanks again for the great videos.

  86. DominatorHDX

    I just watched seasons 1 and 2 of “For All Mankind” and can’t wait for season 3. What do you think about that series? I like it a lot. Nice vid btw 😉👍🏻

  87. Steve Fowler

    There is a very good reason “we” pulled it off. NASA had the only unlimited federal budget program in U.S History with the Apollo program outside of the Manhattan Project. Their budget was literally unlimited until ’69 so cost was not a variable, nor was the target date, as it was fixed, the only variable was the resources required ( a retired Ph.D. Aerospace/Computer Engineer who worked for a large American defense contractor’s Missile Systems company).

  88. Akshay Anand

    The 6000 ship figure seems wrong. I remember post WW2 slip strength being between 600-700 ships. The Reagan admin’s 600 ship Navy was in fact supposed to be a return to this strength which is why older vessels such as the Iowas were reactivated.

  89. Vociferon - Herald of the

    I always look forward to these videos.

  90. Perry Spencer

    Love ya. Thank you

  91. Artie Hess

    You’re on the web and the web is on you.

  92. Roger Elliott

    I am so completely in love with Amy. Would watch her every day. Problem though, I am 70 years old.

  93. Joel Tyler

    Spacex has GO Searcher and GO Navigator. For their recoveries. But on different sides of Florida.

  94. Robert Adamcik

    As a retired US Navy officer, I’ll say “our pleasure!”

  95. Johnny Wednesday

    Thank you very much Amy :) hope you and family are well!

  96. AutoFirePad


  97. Jay Daniels

    Thank you for the content😎🙏🌎🚀

  98. wintersportster

    Good to see all this back again.

  99. Kartik Pathak

    Keep up the good work Amy

Comments are closed.