”We are go for launch—-T-minus 30 seconds and counting…29….28….27….” (Image courtesy of Loretta Taranovich)
Editor Steve Taranovich is NASA Kennedy Space Center KSC) Launch Director? How did that happen?
Well, it didn’t—or maybe only in my mind's fantasy, but I did get an exclusive tour through NASA KSC Launch Control Center (LCC) during my August 2017 visit there.
This month on EDN I will be writing an EDN Exclusive article on the electronics that makes the LCC function.
NASA’s LCC has been the hub of launch operations in Florida since the Apollo program. This four-story building is located at the southeast corner of the huge Vehicle Assembly Building in the Launch Complex 39 area, only a few miles from Launch Complexes 39A (Space-X launches from here) and 39B ( NASA Mars Orion/SLS will launch from here in 2019—see my exclusive EDN article NASA’s launch complex 39B: Paving our path to Mars”)
The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is seen here with the massive NASA logo imprinted upon it. To the lower right of this image, the Launch Control Center (LCC) can be seen. (Image courtesy of Loretta Taranovich)
I was up on the third floor where there are four multi-level firing rooms in which the final checkout of each launch vehicle, that would carry astronauts, was conducted. At the point that the vehicle receives a ‘go’ for launch, the firing room teams became responsible for the control and supervision of the vehicle and liftoff until it cleared the launch pad towers. At that point, all operations were handed over to Johnson Space Center in Houston which housed the Mission Control teams.
The LCC was originally constructed for checkout and launch functions of the Apollo program. When Apollo ended, the LCC was updated for duty to provide the checkout and launch functions for every Space Shuttle mission until the last one on July 8, 2011.
Most recently, the LCC is under renovation for the next generation of rockets and spacecraft, most notably is the Orion program to be launched by the mightiest rocket ever built—the Space Launch System (SLS).
This view is looking out one of the view windows on a third floor firing room in the LCC, a reinforced concrete building, which was optimal for acoustical reasons. These massive, double-paned windows are made of a special shock- and heat-resistant glass which extend across the full width of the East wall of the four firing rooms with a birds-eye view of the launch pads. (Image courtesy of Loretta Taranovich)
The present LCC ready for 21st century launches (Image courtesy of NASA)
Firing Room 1 (FR1), in the LCC, called the Young-Crippen Firing Room, has been completely renovated and functions as NASA's firing room for launches of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft on exploration missions. FR1 was configured for software validation and flight for Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), which launched on December 5, 2014 on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. In this room, engineers developed the systems that followed EFT-1 from ground processing through flight.
So please watch for my upcoming exclusive on EDN regarding the electronics of this LCC with more detailed tech information