Tech

July 31, 2013

Mission control center upgrades increase capability

Both of NASA Dryden’s mission control centers, the “Blue Room” shown here and the slightly smaller “Gold Room,” provide engineers with real-time data on their individual computer monitors and in-flight video on large screens.

Performing major renovations to the gold and blue rooms may sound like it’s leading to the grand re-opening of a popular night club, but at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, it means an increased capability in flight operations and testing.

The almost six-month overhaul of Dryden’s MCC1 and MCC2 Mission Control Centers – known at the center as the “blue” and “gold” rooms respectively for their color schemes – included replacing hardware almost a decade old. With the demanding schedule the control rooms face, this hardware upgrade had to be planned in such a way to allow one control room to be available for scheduled research flights while upgrades were under way in the other. All 42 control room workstations, 26 in the blue room and 16 in the smaller gold room, were replaced.

“There is a lot more horsepower, a lot more onboard storage,” said Russell James, the range systems engineering group lead. “All the networking stuff is incredibly fast and robust compared to what it was.”

Additionally, upgrades were made to the software, including improvements in information technology security. High definition video was also added to the gold room along with some cosmetic changes.

NASA engineers can now follow test flights on banks of modern LED computer monitors that display flight and engineering data, geographical references and real-time flight video.

For approximately $320,000, the renovations increased the control centers’ capabilities, enabling collection, processing and display of mission data for all flight projects using the control rooms to progress with greater speed and reliability.

“This is why Dryden is here,” James said. “We fly airplanes, and to do so safely they (researchers) want to be able to monitor the health and status of the vehicle in near real time and the MCC is the place to do that.”

The flight research center needs two control rooms with nearly identical capabilities to maintain the flexibility needed to support ongoing aeronautics projects. This flexibility was especially important during the upgrade.

Dryden’s gold room has been designated the control center for the upcoming approach and landing flight tests of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser. The Dream Chaser is intended to be a space-faring vehicle capable of transporting astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station, and then making an airplane-style landing on a runway, similar to landings of the now-retired space shuttles.

The recently refurbished blue room is set to host the F/A-18 No. 853 Launch Vehicle Adaptive Control Experiment. The project entails in-flight validation of the launch trajectory software for NASA’s Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket now in development.

In addition to supporting NASA Dryden’s flight tests, the Western Aeronautical Test Range, of which Dryden’s control rooms are a part, support Air Force test flights.

This photo shows the layout of Dryden’s “Blue Room” control center prior to undergoing major renovations to its hardware and software.

When both control centers are up and running, researchers can use either room for monitoring research flights. That permits necessary system tests in the other. Data quality is essential to the research and to protect resources and lives that a failed flight test could endanger.

The data from flight test, according to mission control center software engineering manager Jack Sheldon, “has to be right the first time, every time.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines January 23, 2015

News: Two Marines identified in deadly California helo crash - Two Marine Corps officers killed when their helicopter crashed during a training exercise in the Southern California desert were remembered Jan. 25 as talented pilots. Greek F-16 crashes in Spain during NATO exercise - Ten people died Jan. 26 after a Greek air force F-16 jet crashed...
 
 

News Briefs January 26, 2015

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales. The Navy now wants to deploy up to 720 sonobuoys about 12 miles off...
 
 
Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards

ANG conducts air refueling training with NATO allies in Germany

Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards A NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft approaches a Utah Air National Guard KC-135R Stratotanker for air refueling during a training flight over Germany on Jan. 13, 2015. Nearly 30 airme...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales

Ramstein Airmen train with French air force

Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales Two U.S. Air Force pilots and a French air force navigator discuss the route to the drop zone during a simulated low-level drop Jan. 21, 2015, at Orleans – Bricy Air...
 
 

Marines receive first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant

The first F-35C Lightning II, carrier variant, for the U.S. Marine Corps touched-down on the flight line at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 13, from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, to begin training in support of carrier-based operations. U.S. Marine Lt. Col. J.T. Ryan, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501 detachment commander...
 
 

VA announces single regional framework under MyVA initiative

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Jan. 26 that it is taking the first steps under the MyVA initiative to realign its many organizational maps into one map with five regions to better serve Veterans. The new regions under the MyVA alignment will allow VA to begin the process of integrating disparate organizational boundaries into...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>