Apollo Mission Control Center

Infobox_nrhp | name =Apollo Mission Control Center
nrhp_type = nhl



caption =
location= Houston, Texas
lat_degrees = 29
lat_minutes = 33
lat_seconds = 29
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 95
long_minutes = 5
long_seconds = 18
long_direction = W
locmapin = Texas
area =
built =1965
architect= NASA
architecture= No Style Listed
added = October 03, 1985
governing_body = NATIONAL AERONAUTICS & SPACE ADMINISTRATION
refnum=85002815cite web|url=http://www.nr.nps.gov/|title=National Register Information System|date=2008-04-15|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]

NASA's Apollo Mission Control Center (MCC-H) in Houston, Texas manages all manned space flight of NASA, including the U.S. portions of the International Space Station (ISS). In the United States, the Mission Control Center is associated with manned space flight. A separate organization called the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and their control room manages unmanned space probes. Because Houston is a hurricane sensitive area, NASA has basic back-up facilities for shuttle operations at the Kennedy Space Center as well as a back-up location at MCC Moscow for their ISS operations.

The early days (1960-1964)

Before Gemini 4, all Mercury–Redstone, Mercury–Atlas, and the unmanned Gemini 1, Gemini 2, and manned Gemini 3 missions were controlled by the MCC-center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The original Mission Control Center at Cape Canaveral is at the east end of Mission Control Road, about 0.5 mile (0.8 km) east of Phillips Parkway. This building is used as a storage facility, and is scheduled for demolition sometime between 2006 and 2011. It was formerly part of the visitors' tour, but all control-room equipment was removed in the late 1990s to the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center. A replica of the control room, with all the original equipment, is open during normal Visitors Center hours.

Houston (1964-now)

Located in building 30 at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (originally the Manned Spacecraft Center) in Houston, Texas, the NASA MCC was first used in June, 1965, with Gemini 4, the first American extravehicular-activity or spacewalk mission. The original MCC housed 2 primary rooms known as Mission Operation Control Rooms (MOCRs, pronounced "moe-ker"). In approximately 1992, JSC started building an extension to Building 30 and in 1998, two new MCC rooms went operational, and is sometimes called MCC-2. The new section, like the original, houses two rooms, now known as Flight Control Rooms (FCRs, pronounced as "ficker"), designated "White" and "Blue." The "White" FCR is used for Shuttle Operations and the "Blue" FCR, prior to 2006, was used for ISS operations. After substantial remodelling, mainly with new technologies not available at the time of the opening of the new FCRs, the ISS Flight Control moved to totally revamped MOCR-1, now renamed to FCR-1 in 2006.

The old MCC (1964-1998)

There were two NASA MCC rooms, then known as the Mission Operations Control Rooms (MOCRs), and they controlled all Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle flights up to 1998. Each of them consisted of a four-tier auditorium, dominated by a large map screen, which, with the exception of Apollo lunar flights, has a Mercator projection of the Earth, with locations of the numerous tracking stations over the surface of the earth, and a three-orbit "sine wave" track of the spacecraft in flight. Each MOCR tier was specialized, containing specific controllers, each handling a portion of the spacecraft or launch vehicle.

MOCR Console Positions

The first row, known as "The Trench", consists of four controllers–BOOSTER, RETRO, FIDO, and GUIDO. The BOOSTER controller monitors the launch vehicle, a job lasting no more than six hours. The RETRO, FIDO, and GUIDO controllers monitor the spacecraft trajectory, handle course changes, and establish launch and landing "windows".

The second row, since Project Gemini, consists of the SURGEON, EECOM, and CAPCOM. The SURGEON is the flight surgeon, a NASA-employed civilian doctor who monitors the health of the astronauts, although, since the first flight of the Space Shuttle, this has been done indirectly, except during EVA. The EECOM monitors the spacecraft's electrical and environmental systems, while the CAPCOM ("Capsule Communicator"), generally an astronaut, serves as the "air-to-ground" communicator between the MCC and the space crew; no other controller can speak to the astronauts, except the SURGEON during emergencies.

On the other side of the "aisle" of the second row are controllers who monitor specific parts of Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and the Space Shuttle. During the Gemini Program, the two Agena controllers monitored the Agena upper stage that was used as a docking target used between Gemini 8 through Gemini 12. For the Apollo lunar flights, the TELMU and CONTROL controllers monitored the Apollo lunar module. During Skylab, the EGIL (pronounced "eagle") monitored the Skylab's solar panels, while the EXPERIMENTS controller monitored experiments and the telescopes in the Apollo Telescope Mount. The PAYLOAD and EXPERIMENTS controllers monitor Space Shuttle operations. Another controller, the INCO, monitors the spacecraft's communications and instrumentation.

The third row consists of the PAO (Public Affairs Officer); PROCEDURES, who coordinates with launch teams and writes the countdowns and "go–no go" conditions; FAO (flight activities officer), who coordinates with the flight schedule; AFD (assistant flight director); and FLIGHT (the Flight Director), the "boss" of the entire mission. FLIGHT was first filled by Dr. Christopher Kraft, and later by Eugene Kranz, Dr. Glynn Lunney, Gerry Griffin, and others.

The fourth row has consoles for NASA management, including the Director of the Johnson Space Center, the Director of Flight Crew Operations (chief astronaut—first held by Donald K. "Deke" Slayton), and the Department of Defense officer, who coordinates with active-duty and reserve components in any search-and-rescue or recovery operations if the mission is aborted.

The new MCC (1998-now)

In approximately 1992, JSC started building an extension to the old building 30. This new section was opened in 1998 and consisted of two new rooms called the "White"-FCR, a large room for Shuttle flights, and the "Blue"-FCR, which is a slightly smaller auditorium originally used for International Space Station operations until its relocation to the remodeled MOCR-1 in 2006. The rooms were arranged a little differently from each other and from the old MOCRs.

The old MCC, now on the National Register of Historic Places, consisted of two identical control rooms. After it was replaced in 1998 by the new FCRs, MOCR-2, the room used to control the first manned moon landing, was converted back to its Apollo-era configuration and preserved for historical purposes. It was used as a model for the replicated MOCR in the "Apollo 13" movie, although NASA would have allowed Ron Howard to film the movie there. MOCR-1 had all of its original consoles and tiered decking removed, and it was converted to a "science center" for ISS Payload control operations. After extensive remodeling, MOCR-1 was re-designated as FCR-1 in October 2006; it now serves as the primary control room for the ISS.

White FCR console positions (1998-2010)

From left to right, as viewed from the rear of the room, the front row (the "trench") consists of FDO (pronounced "fido"), responsible for orbital guidance and orbital changes, depending on the phase of flight, either Ascent/Entry a specialist in the procedures of those two high-energy, fast-paced phases of flight or Guidance, a specialist in orbital rendezvous procedures and GC, the controller responsible for the computers and systems in MCC itself.

The second row has PROP, responsible for the propulsion system, GNC, responsible for systems that determine the spacecraft's attitude and issue commands to control it, MMACS (pronounced "max"), responsible for the mechanical systems on the space craft, including the "arm", and EGIL (pronounced "eagle"), responsible for the fuel cells, electrical distribution and O2 & H2 supplies.

The third row has DPS (pronounced "dips"), responsible for the computer systems, ACO, responsible for all payload-related activities, FAO, responsible for the overall plans of activities for the entire flight, and EECOM responsible for the management of environmental systems.

The fourth row has INCO, responsible for communications systems for uploading all systems commands to the vehicle, FLIGHT—the Flight Director, the person in charge of the flight, CAPCOM, an astronaut who is just about the only one to talk to the astronauts on board, and PDRS, the person responsible for arm operations.

The back row contains PAO (Public Affairs Officer), the "voice" of MCC, MOD, a management representative, depending on the phase of flight, either, RIO - only for MIR flights, a Russian-speaker that spoke with the Russian MCC, known as Цуп, (Tsup), BOOSTER responsible for the SRBs and the SSMEs during ascent, or EVA responsible for space suit systems and EVA tasks, and finally, SURGEON.

Blue FCR console positions (1998-2006)

The blue FCR is more regularly arranged, in 5 rows of three consoles, plus one in the rear right corner.

From left to right, as viewed from the rear of the room, the front row consists of ADCO, THOR, and PHALCON.

The second row consists of OSO, ECLSS pronounced "eekliss", and ROBO.

The third row consists of ODIN, depending on phase of flight, either ACO (Shuttle docked) or the CIO (Free-flight Operations) and OpsPlan.

The fourth row consists of CATO, FLIGHT—the Flight Director, and CAPCOM.

Finally, the last row consists of GC, depending on the phase of flight, either, RIO, EVA, VVO, or FDO (reboosts only), and finally, SURGEON.

In the back, right corner, behind the surgeon, occasionally the PAO (Public Affairs Officer) is present, but rarely.

Future of White and Blue FCRs

With the anticipated retirement of the Shuttle in 2010, NASA, between the Shuttle's retirement in 2010 and the planned manned Orion 3 mission, will see the upgrading of the White FCR with new technologies in place in FCR-1, and at the same time, will see the deletion of Shuttle-related flight control positions and their replacement with controller positions that will be easily reconfigured for manned Orion flights to the ISS, the Moon, and later to interplanetary space. Some "generic" positions, like the EGIL and EECOM positions, would most likely be similar to those used on the Skylab flights, but would monitor the onboard environmental and electrical systems onboard the Orion spacecraft, while more "specialized" positions, such as a resurrected TELMU and CONTROL positions, would be used to monitor the Lunar Surface Access Module from its launch until ascent stage jettison.

The Blue FCR, which originally handled ISS operations until 2006, will most likely be reconfigured to handle unmanned Orion flights to the ISS, especially after 2020 when the White FCR will be dedicated to manned missions to the Moon. The Blue FCR may also be used for eventual unmanned Ares V launches of components of future Mars-bound spacecraft when missions to the Red Planet commence in the mid-21st Century.

References


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