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News | April 10, 2024

Guardian Angels and Royal Canadian Air Force SAR Techs Solidify Space Rescue Skills Through Joint Training Effort

By Michael Sparks

In a landmark effort to enhance space rescue capabilities across international lines, the First Air Force (Air Forces Space), Det. 3 Instructor Cadre, recently conducted an extensive Rescue Force Qualification Course. The training, held from April 2-10 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, included three Royal Canadian Air Force Search and Rescue (SAR) techs and Pararescue Specialist from the 38th Rescue Squadron out of Moody AFB, Ga.

The course aimed to prepare rescue forces for alert posturing and potential contingency rescues during NASA space launches. Major Justin Colby, the Commercial Crew Program Director for Det. 3, stressed the importance of readiness for space emergencies. “The primary purpose is to prepare our Guardian Angel forces to assist our NASA colleagues in the event of a launch or return emergency,” Colby stated. “It’s about ensuring that we have the capability to respond to any situation, anywhere, anytime.”

The training covered a range of critical skills, including space medicine basics, using a practice spacecraft analogue for crew capsule functionalities, astronaut extrication techniques, spacecraft hazard identification, and capsule up-righting drills. The inclusion of Canadian personnel and two Canadian Space Agency astronaut observers aligns with NASA’s initiative to broaden potential contingency rescue force options for Commercial Crew Program launches.

Sergeant Morgan Boutilier, a Royal Canadian Air Force Search and Rescue Technician from the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, highlighted the significance of the training. “This is the first time that we, as Canadian SAR technicians, have had the opportunity to participate in this type of training,” Boutilier said. “It’s a substantial deal for us, and it’s crucial for enhancing our joint operational capabilities.”

Master Corporal Darryn Wright-Ingle and Sergeant Myles Marcotte, also Royal Canadian Air Force SAR Technicians, emphasized the training’s benefits and the importance of understanding the operational dynamics of the Guardian Angels. “Knowing how they function as a team and their skill sets is a big asset to us,” Marcotte noted. “The training has been going well, and it’s vital for us to know how to integrate with the Guardian Angels on a mission. It’s all about ensuring the safety and quick recovery of astronauts should the need arise.”

The strategic importance of the training extends beyond skill development. It fosters international cooperation and ensures a robust, expedited recovery process in global rescue scenarios. “Having these networks and connections is going to be vital to executing the task of getting astronauts back to medical care as quickly as possible,” Boutilier concluded.

The joint training exercises underscore the dedication of the Department of Defense and NASA to the Human Space Flight mission, furthering the mission into deep space and beyond. The collaboration between the United States and Canada serves as a testament to the global effort to support astronauts and the exploration of space.