NASA Certifies New Launch Control System for Artemis I Mission

NASA Orion Spacecraft Trans lunar Injection Burn

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Illustration of Orion spacecraft carrying out a trans-lunar injection burn. Credit: NASA

When NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft take off from the company’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the Artemis I objective, the quantity of information created by the rocket, spacecraft, and ground assistance devices will have to do with 100 megabytes per second. The volume and speed of this info requires a similarly intricate and robust computer system to procedure and provide that information to the launch group and matching objective systems in genuine time.

That computer system software application and hardware – called the spacecraft command and control system (SCCS) – is now licensed for usage on Artemis I. Shawn Quinn, director of NASA Engineering at Kennedy, and the KSC Engineering Design Certification Review Board accepted the system at the conclusion of a current style accreditation evaluation for SCCS.

Artemis I Launch Team Countdown Simulation Inside Launch Control Center Firing Room 1

Members of the Artemis I release group take part in a countdown simulation inside the Launch Control Center’s Firing Room 1 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February 3, 2020. A group of almost 100 engineers from Orion, Space Launch System and Exploration Ground Systems came together to overcome a series of simulated obstacles, along with a last countdown treatment. Artemis I will be the very first incorporated tet flight of the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket – the system that will eventually land the very first female and the next male on the Moon. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The system is the electronic center where info taking a trip to and from the SLS core phase, the rocket’s Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), Orion, ground systems, and the operators inside the shooting space intersect. During loading and launch, the software application will process as much as 575,000 modifications per second.

“We’re flying three vehicles in parallel – Orion spacecraft, ICPS, and SLS core stage – and SCCS needs to be able to communicate with all three simultaneously,” stated Mike Van Houten, the Launch Control System task supervisor in the Command, Control and Communications company within EGS. “While we’re ‘talking’ with the spacecraft and vehicles, we’re also receiving data from Kennedy’s ground systems – programmable logic controllers, subsystems in the field, and equipment on the mobile launcher.”

Making sense of that much information is as complex as effectively handling the actual time motions of numerous countless individuals within a big city, Van Houten stated.

NASA Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson

NASA Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson follows operations at her console in Firing Room 1 at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Control Center throughout a countdown simulation for Artemis I. It was the company’s very first simulation of a part of the countdown for the very first launch of a Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft that will ultimately take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit to locations such as the Moon and Mars. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston

“Each bit of telemetry data coming from a different interface is like a person arriving into the city via a plane, train, automobile, bus, or ferry,” he described. “Just like each person, each bit of data needs to arrive at a unique destination, whether that’s a display, application, or recording. And all the movements have to be synchronized so data arrives exactly where it should be in the quickest timeframe possible.”

All this info is incorporated into the screens revealed on consoles throughout Firing Room 1 and Firing Room 2 inside Kennedy’s Launch Control Center, allowing Operators to make educated choices on how to continue the activity in development.

Launch Control Center Firing Room 1

Members of the Artemis I release group take part in a countdown simulation inside the Launch Control Center’s Firing Room 1 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Feb. 3, 2020. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Comprising a mix of custom-made software application and off-the-shelf items, the SCCS was established particularly to handle processing and launch operations for Artemis objectives. As Artemis started to take shape, NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) group and its lead specialist, Jacobs, advanced the effort to establish a robust, upgraded system.

The accreditation marks completion of the system’s advancement and indicates the start of the “sustaining” stage of the task for Artemis I. Moving forward, countdown and launch simulations carried out by the EGS-Jacobs group will assist train the launch group and tweak the SCCS.

During these simulations, Operators action through prelaunch lists to practice the treatments for liftoff and climb. Some simulations concentrate on particular operations while others stroll the group through crucial parts of the countdown. Each wedding rehearsal enables the group to collect helpful information to fine-tune the system.

“The SCCS system engineering and performance teams evaluate the data after each simulation to ensure the system is performing per specifications and no unexpected errors were triggered,” Van Houten stated. “It gives the SCCS team an indication of where we need to tackle problems before the next sim or operational event.”

Lessons gained from releasing the uncrewed Artemis I will assist SCCS designers recognize procedure, efficiency, and technical modifications required for future objectives. The designers will concentrate on catching brand-new requirements and the expectations of stakeholders such as the Artemis I release director, shooting space operators, the ground assistance devices group, the ground to flight software group, the design and simulation group, and the launch training group. This info will assist the SCCS designers make system upgrades to support the crewed Artemis II flight test and future objectives.

Under the Artemis program, NASA is blazing a trail in human expedition of deep area with significantly intricate objectives to check out the Moon and get ready for future objectives to send out astronauts to Mars.