DynCorp International team members working in support of the NASA Aircraft Maintenance Operational Support (AMOS) program recently assisted in a Direct Return mission, helping Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts return home after spending more than six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS). DI team members performed flight operations on the specially modified Gulfstream III that flew Virts from Kazakhstan back to the United States.
DI mechanics configured the aircraft for medical support prior to the mission by installing necessary equipment and crew comfort accommodations to include one to two hospital beds. DI team member Keith Halkard traveled with the aircraft for the entire mission to perform aircraft servicing and inspections. The flight crew had five ground stops during the trip, swapping flight crew members to ensure the astronaut returned home as quickly as possible for post-orbit evaluations.
DI pilot, Ken Cockrell, also a retired NASA astronaut, flew two legs of the Direct Return from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan to Houston, Texas.
“Ken is one of the most experienced pilots supporting the Direct Return missions,” said Timothy Wolard, DynCorp International director of Maintenance. “The experience he brings as a former astronaut makes him a valuable member of our team.”
Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts of NASA, Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA and Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos returned from the ISS in a Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft on June 11, 2015, after conducting research and technology demonstrations in space.
Virts officially handed over command of the ISS to cosmonaut Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), who will lead Expedition 44.
DynCorp International and NASA
DI supports NASA by providing aircraft maintenance and operational support services at various locations including Ellington Field at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., NASA facilities in El Paso, Texas, and Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and other locations worldwide as required.
Services include support for eight different types of NASA aircraft to perform flight operations, maintenance, repairs and alterations to aircraft, component parts and support equipment and engineering services. Additional services include support for spaceflight readiness training, airborne research and development, and flight tests.