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News | Aug. 3, 2020

Multinational space operators support successful return of DM-2

By Maj. Cody Chiles, CFSCC Public Affairs Combined Force Space Component Command

Multinational military space operators from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States provided mission essential human space flight support and emergency recovery support options for the safe return of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Commercial Crew Program Demonstration Mission 2 on Aug. 1-2 from the International Space Station to the Gulf of Mexico.

A combined team of U.S. and multinational exchange and liaison space operators stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, coordinated with a global network of space and military operations centers to support the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft with space surveillance sensor coverage, collision avoidance screening and warnings, recovery trajectory tracking and rapidly deployable global personnel recovery capabilities in support of DM-2.

“The U.K., Australian, Canadian, German and French space forces worked with our CFSCC and CSpOC team on tracking the Dragon capsule, space debris collision avoidance and for contingency astronaut recovery plans,” said Maj. Gen. John E. Shaw, Combined Force Space Component Commander, U.S. Space Command. “My congratulations go to NASA and SpaceX for a safe and successful mission. The U.S. Space Force, U.S. Space Command, CFSCC and partner nations were proud to support.”

The return of the DM-2 marks the first launch and recovery of American astronauts from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight, STS-135, in July 2011 and the first capsule splashdown recovery at sea for NASA since the final Apollo mission in 1975. Additionally, this was the first crewed test flight of SpaceX’s Dragon and the first time American astronauts were launched to and from the International Space Station aboard a commercial vehicle. 

The Department of Defense has provided Human Space Flight Support Operations to NASA since 1958. The DoD continues to provide operational resources requested by NASA to support the Soyuz, Orion and other Commercial Crew Programs.

Editor’s Note: For additional details about DoD rescue forces postured to support the DM-2 mission, see this Space News Webinar featuring Maj. Gen. John Shaw, Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess, and Lt. Col. Michael Thompson.