The crew of Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 were on standby on Monday morning to assist Elon Musk's SpaceX Crew Dragon, which launched from Cape Canaveral, in Florida.
Bernard Meehan, Chief Crewman Standards with Rescue 115, explained to The Clare Champion that the Shannon-based crew were prepared to rescue the four astronauts on board in the event the mission was forced to abort before making it into orbit. It's estimated that the rocket would touchdown in the Atlantic Ocean, between 50 and 200km off of County Clare.
Meehan said “It’s quite an unusual event, and I suppose the chances of us being called to action were probably slim. Nonetheless, we were ready to fly out to rescue the astronauts on board. We had been briefed on the make-up of the capsule, how the hatches open and how it would be sitting in the water.
“Our job would be to fly out to the capsule, collect the astronauts and bring them to the nearest hospital, in this case UHL, to be checked out. The US Air Force also had a team on standby at one of their European bases to assist,” he said.
SpaceX Crew Dragon saw three Americans, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi blast off at 7.27 pm (12.27 am Irish time), on Monday, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They have now arrived at the International Space Station (ISS).
An announcement at 4.01 am Irish time, from the ISS, said: "Dragon SpaceX, soft capture confirmed." The craft named "Resilience" docked at the space station some 400km above the midwestern US state of Ohio.
This crew joins two Russians and one American aboard the station and will stay for six months.