US Air Force 38th Rescue Squadron Blue TeamTrains to Support SpaceX and Boeing
US Air Force 38th Rescue Squadron Blue TeamTrains to Support SpaceX and Boeing

US Air Force 38th Rescue Squadron Blue TeamTrains to Support SpaceX and Boeing

Pararescuemen, aircrew flight equipment Airmen and maritime operations specialists assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, conducted rescue training in the Banana River and Atlantic Ocean near Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, Aug. 23-27, 2021. The 38th RQS Blue Team performed freefall jumps and equipment drops into water to prepare for potential operations supporting the SpaceX Human Spaceflight program and Boeing’s spaceflight program as well as other immediate response force operations. When astronauts are doing their launches, we cover down in the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. That way if they have an emergency and they need a bailout, 38th RQS Blue Team are the rescue team on-site who would recover them from their capsule.

US Air Force 38th Rescue Squadron Blue TeamTrains to Support SpaceX and Boeing
U.S. Air Force pararescuemen assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron walk to an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft during water jump training on the Banana River near Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, Aug. 24, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Bulow-Gonterman)

In the event of a malfunction during launch, the capsule will detach itself from the rocket and jettison away from potential explosions or other hazards. The goal is for the capsule to land in an ocean where pararescue jumpers can go in and extract anyone on board. In order to execute this type of rescue operation, the team needs to be proficient in several areas. For starters, they need to know how to safely land in the ocean with their water gear. Additionally, there are two different boat packages they need to be familiar with: a Rigging Alternate Method Boat, or RAMB, which is a deflated Combat Rubber Raiding Craft that can be dropped by parachute into the water and then inflated upon landing; and a hard duck, which is an inflated CRRC that is fixed to a wooden base and dropped by parachute as well.

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U.S. Air Force pararescuemen assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron land in the Banana River during water jump training near Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, Aug. 24, 2021.
U.S. Air Force pararescuemen assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron land in the Banana River during water jump training near Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, Aug. 24, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Devin Boyer)

Using these packages, Galindo said their team can load the boats with medical supplies, paddles, boat engines and anything else they would need for their rescue operations. Then, the team can drop them from cargo aircraft and jump into the drop zone immediately after to conduct their rescue mission. Conducting these training exercises on a routine basis ensures the teams are ready to go at a moment’s notice. This level of proficiency offers a layer of comfort for the astronauts conducting launches off the coast.While this training was specifically tailored to support the human spaceflight programs, it doubles as preparation for potential rescue operations in contingency locations.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Galindo, 38th Rescue Squadron pararescueman Blue Team section chief, prepares to land in the Banana River during water jump training near Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, Aug. 24, 2021.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Galindo, 38th Rescue Squadron pararescueman Blue Team section chief, prepares to land in the Banana River during water jump training near Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, Aug. 24, 2021.

The 38th Rescue Squadron is part of the 347th Rescue Group at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. It operates various fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft conducting search and rescue missions. The squadron flew combat search and rescue missions during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The 38 RQS trains, equips, and employs combat-ready pararescue and supporting personnel worldwide in support of U.S. national security interests and NASA. This squadron provides survivor contact, treatment, and extraction during combat rescue operations, and uses various fixed/rotary wing insertion/extraction assets and employs by any means available to provide combat and humanitarian search, rescue, and medical assistance in all environments.

US Air Force 38th Rescue Squadron Blue TeamTrains to Support SpaceX and Boeing
U.S. Air Force pararescuemen assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron jump from an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft into the Banana River near Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, Aug. 24, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Bulow-Gonterman)
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