In the winter of 2008, NASA’s Constellation Program Office initiated a full scale experimental program to quantify the hydrodynamic performance of the Orion Crew Module. The intent of such an experiment was to give real world experience to the DoD recovery forces tasked with recovery of the astronauts and CM after splashdown. The Seakeeping and Marine & Aviation Divisions of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division were given the responsibility of performing this task. Over the course of the next year, NSWCCD personnel designed and constructed a full scale ‘boilerplate’ module known as PORT; and tested it off the coast of Kennedy Space Center. Concurrent to the PORT effort, NSWCCD developed seakeeping simulations and conducted a series of ¼ scale model experiments to understand the seakeeping, dynamic stability, and towing aspects of the CM. These experiments were conducted at NSWCCD and at the Littoral Warfare Environment located at the U.S Army’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds. This paper discusses the multi-year NSWCCD technological effort. Specifically, it showcases the testing aspects of this unique program. It also demonstrates the strong correlation between model experiment, simulation, and full scale trial data.

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