Monday, September 20, 2010

NASA JSC - Mission Control Center - Where the magic happens!

Today I visited the Mission Control Center. As the title says, this is where pretty much everything comes together for the US manned spaceflight. This is like the brain and nerve system. Systems are being monitored, decisions are made based on the information and orders are being sent, while ensure that everything else is working properly.

During the early days, Mercury-Redstone, Mercury-Atlas, Gemini 1, 2 and the manned Gemini 3 missions, the control center was actually at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (the equipment from that historic room was moved to the Debus Center at the Visitor Complex. I visited it and it was pretty cool!).

At Building 30 here at Jonson Space Center the "new" MCC was first used in mid of 1965, with Gemini 4.  In the early 1990s JSC built an extension to Building 30. The new section went operational in 1998 and offers two Flight Control Rooms. One is designated "White" and the other "Blue". White is for the Shuttle Operations and Blue, prior to 2006, was for ISS operations. But then another big remodeling phase began and even better technology was added and so ISS Flight Control moved to the totally updated MOCR1, now called FCR1.

First, let's visit FCR1 (Flight Control Room 1 for the ISS). Below is a picture of what the control room looks like during normal operations (me being there is not abnormal).

As you can see just from this frame, there are many workstations and consoles. Let's take a look at the various consoles within the International Space Station Control Room. So next time you watch NASA TV and see the FCR1, everything will be a little more clear! How about we work our way from the back left side to the front, row by row:

Row 1:
TITAN - Telemetry, Information, Transfer & Attitude Navigation
TITAN is responsible for Command and Data Handling, Communications and Tracking, and Motion Control. TITAN is part of the Gemini team, reducing the number of people working in MCC (Mission Control Center) nights and on weekends.

ROBO - Robotics Operations Systems Officer
ROBO monitors the operations of the space station's robotic arm - the remote manipulator systems, or SSRMS - and its Mobile Servicing System.

OSO - Operations Support Officer
OSO manages all on-orbit maintenance activities including development, training and analysis of procedures on the ground before being carried out in orbit.

The big screens inside the FCR1 - here is STS-130 crew getting ready to speak with the President

Row 2:
ATLAS - Atmosphere Thermal Lighting Articulation Specialist
ATLAS is responsible for Environmental Control and Life Support System, the Electrical Power System and the Thermal Control System. ATLAS is part of the Gemini team, reducing the number of people working in MCC (Mission Control Center) nights and on weekends.

CATO - Communications and Tracking Officer
CATO manages the station's on-obit communications systems.

ODIN - Onboard, Data, Interfaces and Networks
ODIN manages computer software and hardware, caution and warning, command and data processing, as well as data interfaces with international partners.

ADCO - Attitude Determination and Control Officer
ADCO is responsible for all guidance, navigation and control of the station.

A combo you do not see everyday! ISS/STS-130 Crew, Mr. President and me on February 17, 2010. 

Row 3:
EVA - Extravehicular Activities
EVA occupies this console when spacewalks take place from the station's U.S. Quest Joint airlock. Spacesuits and spacewalks are monitored and orchestrated here.

MOD - Mission Operations Directorate
MOD provides a link from the flight control room to top NASA and mission managers.

FLIGHT - Flight Director
FLIGHT serves as the leader for the flight control team and acts as the focal point for all decisions relevant to the space flight mission.

ECLSS - Environmental Control and Life Support System
ECLSS oversees the assembly, checkout and operations of the station's environmental control functions and life support systems.

PHALCON - Power, Heating, Articulation Lighting and Control
PHALCON manages the electricity available to operate the space station systems and experiments.

The Flight Director & The President during STS-130

Row 4:
SURGEON & BME - Flight Surgeon and Biomedical Engineer
SURGEON is responsible for the health and safety of station crew members, monitoring physical and phychological health and providing information to the flight director. BME monitors health-related station systems and crew health care systems.

CAPCOM - Spacecraft Communicator
CAPCOM serves as the prime communications line between Mission Control and the station crew. CAPCOM originally stood for capsule communicator in the beginning of the US human spaceflight program.

TOPO - Trajectory Operations and Procedures Officer
TOPO is responsible for the station trajectory and plans all station orbital maneuvers. Works with Russian controllers, ADCO and the US Space Command to maintain data regarding the station's orbital position.

VVO - Visiting Vehicles Officer
VVO monitors the Soyuz and Progress visiting vehicles during docking and undocking activities while at the International Space Station.

OPS PLAN - Operations Planner
OPS PLAN is responsible for developing and coordinating operations plans and crew work schedules, or timelines during periods when the space shuttle is docked to the station.

THOR - Thermal Operations and Resources
THOR is responsible for the assembly, operations and checkout of the International Space Station's thermal control system.

Row 5:
GC - Ground Controller
GC directs maintenance and activities affecting Mission Control hardware, software and support facilities. Data and voice transmissions from ground and satellite networks are also coordinate here.

RIO - Russian Interface Officer
RIO servers as the primary interface between the United States and the International Partner control centers.

CIO - Cargo Integration Officer
CIO maintains an inventory of all supplies and equipment aboard the station. Cargo delivered to and from the space station is also inventoried.

PAO - Public Affairs Officer
PAO provides mission commentary to supplement and explain air-to-ground transmissions and flight control operations to the new media and public.

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