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Kylie Clem
Johnson Space Center, Houston

NASA Revives Original Mission Control for Growing Space Station

International Space Station flight controllers have a new home with 
increased technical capabilities, more workspace and a long, 
distinguished history.

As NASA embarks on a series of space flights as complex as any in 
history to complete assembly of the station, station operations 
facilities needed an upgrade. The previous station control room, 
designated the Blue Flight Control Room, had been in operation since the 
first station component was launched in 1998. The newly remodeled 
facility is just down the hall at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. 
Known as Flight Control Room 1, it was first used to control a space 
flight 38 years ago today, the mission of Apollo 7 launched Oct. 11, 
1968. It was one of two original control rooms for NASA's manned missions.

Among historic flights the room controlled during its previous use were 
missions to America's first space station, Skylab, in the 1970s, and the 
first space shuttle mission, STS-1, in April 1981. Fittingly, the last 
full flight controlled from the room was the first time a shuttle 
visited a space station, the STS-71 mission to the Russian Mir station 
in June 1995. Following that, shuttle flight control transitioned to a 
new room, and the last service in FCR-1 was control of the ascent to 
orbit only of space shuttle mission STS-76 in March 1996. Since then, 
the room has been a science center.

After nine months of remodeling, including changes to existing hardware 
to minimize expenses, the station team moved in on Oct. 6. They now 
staff the room around the clock and will continue to do so throughout 
the life of the station. The relocation was coordinated by Lead Station 
Flight Director John McCullough. A team of employees from across Johnson 
completed the renovations and systems testing on a tight schedule with 
no interruption of critical station operations. Today, that team 
gathered in FCR-1 for a ribbon cutting to commemorate the project's 

At the ceremony, the team was joined by Johnson Director Mike Coats, 
Mission Operations Director Allen Flynt and Mission Operations Deputy 
Director Milt Heflin. Former Johnson Director and Project Mercury Flight 
Director Christopher Kraft, who is credited with developing NASA's 
original concepts of human space flight control, was a special guest.

The old room had about 16 consoles for flight control disciplines, such 
as space station electrical and environmental systems. Several 
disciplines had to share consoles depending on station activities under way.

"When we were doing complex operations, such as spacewalks, launches or 
rendezvous and dockings, we had to relocate to the larger shuttle flight 
control room or use back rooms," said McCullough. "In that configuration 
the team didn't have the best possible situational awareness of what was 
going on."

The new room has 20 consoles and more space for safety and comfort. Its 
existing consoles and individual monitors were updated. Where the old 
room had only two front screens, the new facility has three large front 
screens to display information for the entire team and mounted high 
definition television cameras.

To ensure a smooth transition, the station team has had temporary 
quarters in the Shuttle Flight Control Room since the last shuttle 
mission was completed in September. The temporary quarters allowed 
equipment to be moved and full check out of the new facility without 
interference to ongoing station expeditions.

The walls of the new room reflect its long history, with 61 mission 
plaques displayed from flights supported there. New plaques will be 
added now for each mission the station team supports as the room again 
makes history.

"I like to hearken back to the Apollo operations and think that the 
ghosts from that time are still in the room," said Chief Flight Director 
Phil Engelauf of the new station flight control room. "The symbolism is 
not lost on the new generation of flight controllers working there."

The first new plaque to be added will be for shuttle mission STS-116, 
targeted to launch in December. Video of the remodeling work, the 
operational room and ribbon cutting ceremony will air as a NASA TV Video 
File beginning tomorrow. Video of the room in operation also is 
available as part of NASA TV's daily station coverage. For NASA TV 
streaming video, scheduling and digital downlink information visit:


For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

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