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How to Use the Images


Inquiry Question

Historical Context



Photos 1 & 2
Photo 4
Photo 5


Table of

Visual Evidence

Photo 3: Mission Control Center, Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center), July 1969.[Photo 3] with link to larger version of photo.
(National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Illustration 1: Mission Control Center assignments.[Illustration 1] with link to larger version of photo.
(National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Key to Illustration 1:
Assignments in the Mission Control Center, with their primary responsibilities.

Information is displayed on television monitors, indicator lights and digital readout devices on the consoles. Information is also displayed on the large group display projection screens at the front of the control room. A visitor viewing room, providing seating space for 74 persons, is located at the rear of the control room.

1. Mission Director--overall mission responsibility and control of flight test operations.
2. Department of Defense Representative--overall control of Department of Defense forces supporting the mission.
3. Public Affairs Officer--responsible for providing information on the mission status to the public.
4. Flight Director--responsible to the Mission Director for detailed control of the mission from liftoff until conclusion of the flight.
5. Assistant Flight Director.
6. Network Controller--detailed operations control of the Ground Operational Support System network.
7. Operations and Procedures Officer--responsible to the Flight Director for the detailed implementation of the Mission Control Center/Ground Operational Support Systems mission control procedures.
8. Vehicle Systems Engineers--monitor and evaluate the performance of all electrical, mechanical, and life support equipment aboard the spacecraft.
9. Flight Surgeon--directs all operational medical activities concerned with the mission, including the status of the flight crew.
10. Spacecraft Communicator--voice communications with the astronauts.
11. Flight Dynamics Officer--monitors and evaluates the flight parameters required to achieve a successful orbital flight; gives "Go" or "Abort" recommendations to the Flight Director.
12. Retrofire Officer--monitors impact prediction displays and is responsible for determination of retrofire times.
13. Guidance Officer--detects Stage I and Stage II slowrate deviations and other programmed events, verifies proper performance of the Gemini Inertial Guidance System, and recommends action to the Flight Director.
14. Booster Systems Engineer--monitors propellant tank pressurization systems and advises the flight crew and/or Flight Director of systems abnormalities.
15. Assistant Flight Dynamics Officer.
16. Maintenance and Operations Supervisor--responsible for the performance of Mission Control Center-Houston equipment.

Photo 3 and Illustration 1 (with its key) show the Mission Control Center at the Manned Spacecraft Center (Johnson Space Center) in Houston during the Apollo 11 mission. There was also a mission control room at the Kennedy Space Center that handled the launch until the rocket cleared the launch tower. The computers shown were extremely sophisticated electronic equipment in 1969; personal computers were not yet available.

Questions for Photo 3 and Illustration 1

1. Study Photo 3 carefully and make a list of everything you can see, both people and equipment. What are your impressions of what people are doing? Can you identify different activities that these people are engaged in? Why do you think there are so many people?

2. Study Illustration 1 and its key. The job descriptions are written in bureaucratic language. Take one job and describe in ordinary language what you think this person actually did. What kind of problem was the person you have selected expected to handle? When you have completed this exercise, list all the potential problems you and your classmates have identified on the board. Remember that each problem had to be anticipated and methods devised to either prevent or correct it if the mission was to succeed. Remember also that failure to solve these problems might lead to the deaths of the astronauts.

3. The large boards in the front of the room are projection screens where television images and other data could be displayed. Why do you think these large screens were necessary when everyone in the room seems to have his own computer?

4. The men in this room tracked every minute of the Apollo flight, from liftoff on July 16 to moon landing on July 20 to splashdown on July 24. How do you think they reacted when the large screens at the front of the room showed the pictures of Armstrong and Aldrin walking on the Moon?

5. Why do you think NASA provided space for visitors and reporters at Houston?

* The images on this screen have a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Photo 3 and Illustration 1, but be aware that each file will take as much as 30 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.



Comments or Questions

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