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 Ford Subsidiary Plays Major Role in Design of NASA Mission Control

DATE: Will be calculated from "Release Start Date" field.

Editor's Note: Each Thursday, @Ford Online takes a look back at Ford heritage moments from the company's past. Click here for more heritage articles.

HOUSTON - On May 25, 1965, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Mission Control Center (MCC), designed and largely equipped by Ford’s subsidiary Philco Corporation, was announced.

NASA’s $100 million MCC was specifically built to coordinate the Gemini and Apollo space flights.  Its main mission was to provide centralized control of NASA manned spaceflight programs, including full mission control from launch through recover and technical management in the areas of vehicle systems, flight dynamics, life systems, flight crew activities, recover support and ground network support operations.

Redundancy was the keystone in the design of the MCC, which was implemented by the Houston Operations of Philco Corporation’s Western Development Laboratories Division of Palo Alto, Calif.   Every piece of equipment and system had a spare or auxiliary, including the electric power and air conditioning systems.

Although, earlier Gemini missions could be run with less than half the MCC’s equipment, demands increased and continued to increase as missions became more complex.

One of the major MCC design challenges facing Philco scientists and engineers was in human factors: How much information can a person absorb and act upon and how does one make certain that the control center recognizes an emergency when situations change?

MCC was then the largest assembly of television switching equipment in the world (larger than commercial studios in New York) and contained more than 52 million feet (10,000 miles) of wire along with nearly 1,200 cabinets of electronic equipment.

During missions (or simulations) in the main rooms of MCC, controllers at 17 console positions  as well as in adjacent Staff Support Rooms were fed a constantly changing stream of data by means of TV monitors, other console display devices and large-screen projections.

NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, became operational in June 1965 with the launch of the Gemini IV spacecraft. 



  

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5/24/2012 5:45 AM