NASA Needed Thousands of Men to Recover its Astronauts

Amy Shira Teitel
7 min readJul 9, 2021

Splashdowns are iconic of the Apollo era. Pictures of astronauts being plucked out of the water or waving from recovery carriers are synonymous with the successful end of a mission. But have you ever wondered just how many men it took to pluck one astronaut out of the water?

A lot. The answer is a lot.

Al Shepard being hoisted out of the water after his Freedom 7 flight on May 5, 1961. NASA.


Amy Shira Teitel

Historian and author of Fighting for Space (February 2020) from Grand Central Publishing. Also public speaker, TV personality, and YouTuber. [The Vintage Space]