Mission Control's new look

Paul Hill, mission operations director, at podium, Johnson Center Director Ellen Ochoa, left and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, right, speak about the remodeled Mission Control Center and the upcoming Orion test flight. 

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER — Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control Center has been remodeled and retooled as NASA moves closer to putting its new spacecraft into orbit.

The remodeling and upgrading of Mission Control, which includes flight control rooms, backrooms that support those flight control rooms, and other infrastructure upgrades, was a $60 million investment, said Paul Hill, mission operations director. The work was done during the past three years.

Rather than have the furniture, equipment and technology made specifically for NASA, as the agency has done in the past, the agency was able to get what it needed straight off the shelf, thanks to advances in consumer technology, Hill said. 

The upgrades will lead to significant cost savings, Hill said.

The goals of the remodeling, which included everything from the furniture to the computer networks and communication systems, were to modernize, bring cost down and increase power — but not disrupt the flight controller experience, Hill said. 

“The touch and feel to them will look identical — it will look seamless — even though we have completely changed things out underneath them,” he said.

By October, the White Flight Control Room will house the International Space Station flight control team, he said.

Flight control teams will be able to fly the space station, Orion, the heavy-lift launch vehicle, the Space Launch System and commercial space vehicles from the facility, Hill said.

But all the new computer power will be useless without a spacecraft in the air. That craft, the Orion Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle, will be ready to go on its first test flight near the end of this year, said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Just down the hall in the newly remodeled Blue Flight Control Room, a combination NASA and Lockheed Martin flight controller team was running through the Orion’s first flight. 

“It is an incredibly important mission because it is the first in a long milestone of missions leading us to having a capability of going deeper into space than humans have ever gone before,” Bolden said. 

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com

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