The stunning footage was captured on Nov. 1 using a camera mounted on a drone. It shows the USS John P. Murtha, which is equipped with a well deck that floods, allowing teams to float a test version of NASA's Orion capsule in and out of the deck. You can see more spectacular views in this photo gallery.
That's why NASA and the U.S. Navy borrowed the ship for a multi-day mission to the Pacific Ocean in late October and early November. NASA needed to test the procedures involved in bringing in a capsule after landing.
During the test procedures, NASA personnel, contract staff and Navy divers practiced rowing out to the capsule, encircling it with an inflatable collar and towing it back to the ship.
They also practiced fetching astronauts. When the Orion module lands after a real mission, astronauts will be given the choice of remaining in the capsule until it has been brought in or exiting via an inflatable "front porch" and traveling to the main ship in a small boat.
NASA has plenty of time to hone its recovery procedures — the agency isn't planning to fly humans on the modules until 2023. That voyage has to wait until the capsule's rocket, the Space Launch System, is ready to fly. Uncrewed tests of the pair of vehicles are scheduled to begin in 2020, according to the agency.