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 August 31, 2015

News: Pilot killed in crash was helping wounded veterans – A pilot who died in a small plane crash in the desert northeast of Los Angeles was giving free glider rides to wounded military veterans. Turkey carries out first air strikes as part of anti-Isis U.S. coalition – Turkish fighter jets have carried out their first air...
 
 

News Briefs August 31, 2015

Pakistan officials: U.S. envoy discusses Afghan peace efforts Pakistani officials say visiting U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice has discussed efforts to revive Afghan peace talks. Rice met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif Aug. 30. Two Pakistani officials say they discussed efforts to revive talks between the Afghan government...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

F-22 inaugural deployment to Europe

Courtesy photograph A pair of F-22 Raptors fly near the coastline of Panama City Beach, Fla. Four F-22 Raptors, one C-17 Globemaster III, and approximately 60 airmen arrived at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to train with allie...
 

 
ILS photograph

Boeing-built satellite will create first global high-speed broadband network

ILS photograph The Inmarsat-5 F3 satellite launched Aug. 28 aboard a International Launch Services Proton Breeze M rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. EL SEGUNDO, Calif.–When the third Boeing-built [NYSE: BA] Inmarsat-5 sat...
 
 

Civil Air Patrol joins total force ‘Airmen’

When conducting missions for the Air Force as the official Air Force auxiliary, the Civil Air Patrol is now included in the Air Force’s definition of the total force. CAP has provided 74 years of support to emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs. In August 2015, the Air Force updated Doctrine Volume 2, “Leadership,”...
 
 
DOD photograph by Air Force MSgt. Adrian Cadiz

Carter announces manufacturing initiative to aid war fighters

DOD photograph by Air Force MSgt. Adrian Cadiz Defense Secretary Ash Carter announces the creation of a National Manufacturing Innovation Institute to produce hybrid electronics during a speech at the National Full Scale Aerody...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>