Lockheed Martin Space Operations has
turned over another new flight control room to NASA, the third in the last six
years. The latest addition to the NASA Johnson Space Center, the Training
Flight Control Room (TFCR), is patterned after the two functionally identical
flight control rooms (FCRs) in the Mission Control Center. NASA and contractor
flight controllers use these rooms to support space shuttle and space station
missions, simulations and testing.

Up until now, the two FCRs supported both NASA mission and training needs
for both the space shuttle and space station, while support of the first two
space station modules was conducted from a temporary location with very
limited capability. But, with the successful docking of Russia’s Zvezda
Service Module with International Space Station (ISS), flight controllers at
JSC will be supporting ISS 24 hours a day. . . meaning that the ISS FCR won’t
be available for training anymore.

That’s why NASA needed the new Training Flight Control Room. Over the next
14 months, traffic to and from the station will pick up dramatically as
construction crews piece together a half million pounds of hardware — or 85
percent of the U.S. side of the station. But, before any of this high-tech
assembly work occurs in space, ISS components will be “assembled” virtually
over and over again in simulations … conducted in the new TFCR.

“Since our people have already built two world-class flight control rooms
for NASA, one might be tempted to greet the news of us building a training FCR
with a big yawn,” said Doug Tighe, vice president and program manager of
Lockheed Martin Space Operations’ Consolidated Space Operations Contract
(CSOC). “But, in many respects, this was probably the team’s toughest
challenge yet. We had to take a storage area, projection room and project
office located behind the historic flight control room used in the Apollo
program and transform that space into the TFCR in just six months. That’s
really operating at warp speed.”

Key to the CSOC team’s ability to deliver a mission success from what at
one time seemed a mission impossible was its experience in developing the two
FCRs in the Mission Control Center. They followed the same script, using
commercially available hardware that runs on software that they had already
developed for NASA. Using industry parlance, this computer equipment is called
COTS (commercial off-the-shelf), which will spell big savings for NASA over
the life of the flight control room.

For example, the new high tech projectors in the TFCR cost about
80 percent less than the old technology units formerly used.
Even better,
they will pay for themselves in less than a year.
Those old-tech projectors
worked fine, but the red, blue and green CRT assemblies in them had to be
replaced — about two of them each year per projector — at more than the cost
of a brand new projector. (The two operational FCRs have also been upgraded
with the new projectors.)

The CSOC team provided program management, facility design, systems
engineering and hardware support for NASA on the TFCR project. And, according
to them, if NASA ever needs to have a third operational flight control room at
JSC, it will only take some modest upgrades to the TFCR to fill that bill as

Lockheed Martin Space Operations, a business unit of Lockheed Martin
Technology Services headquartered in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, is a high-tech
engineering and science services firm employing more than 4,000 engineers,
scientists and support personnel.
Services include managing CSOC; software
and hardware engineering for the Space Shuttle and International Space
Station; mission operations and planning systems design, development, and
integration; and human life sciences research.