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SpaceX prepares to recover ISS astronauts after ocean touchdown

by Justin King

The recovery ship is equipped with a spacecraft recovery crane, helipad and medical center.

NASA has shared photos of SpaceX's preparation for recovering International Space Station astronauts during ocean landings.

The company's recovery ship, GO Searcher, is equipped with a crane to pluck the Crew Dragon spacecraft out of the water and onto the main deck of the ship.For trickier recoveries, the vessel also features a rigid-hull inflatable boat, helipad, and a medical treatment facility.

In emergencies, a helicopter can quickly transport astronauts to land.SpaceX recently completed helicopter landing and patient loading rehersals on the ship, validating methods for picking up astronauts and a medical team before flying to a hospital.

"NASA's Commercial Crew Program is working with Boeing and SpaceX to begin launching astronauts from American soil for the first time since 2011," NASA wrote in a blog post. "The goal of the program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station from the United States."

The US currently relies on Russia's Soyuz rocket for crewed missions. The Soyuz recently experienced a major failure that caused the crew capsule to be jettisoned into the ocean during a launch to the ISS. Crew members were not seriously injured but the next launch was delayed until December.