Author Topic: Apollo 11 mission control room  (Read 4662 times)

Offline kyleg

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Apollo 11 mission control room
« on: 08/04/2009 05:44 pm »
hello,

I am looking for some information about the apollo 11 mission control room what kind of technology they had and used ect, can anyone point me in the right
direction?

Thanks

~ KyleG

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Apollo 11 mission control room
« Reply #1 on: 08/04/2009 08:29 pm »
Blackstar may have some details on the subcontractors who provided the equipment, things like that -- I have to admit, in all of the many and varied documents from the era that I've read, I've never come across anything with those kinds of details.

I can point you to "Apollo: The Race to the Moon" by Murray and Bly-Cox, which has some good descriptions of the evolutionary process of how the whole control center concept came to be, and it deals to some degree with the tools the controllers had available to them.  But I can give you some general ideas right now.

The computers that ran the displays in the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) were generally located in the Real-Time Computing Center (RTCC), where a bank of IBM mainframe computers were located.  Other computers and signal conditioning equipment were deployed at nearly every level of the communications network that fed the MOCR.

The IBM computers were the mainframes available in the mid-60's.  I'm sorry, I don't have the series number at hand.

The MOCR consoles consisted primarily of pushbuttons and CRT displays.  The pushbuttons sometimes lit up, either when in use or to indicate a particular condition in (or around, in the case of the trajectory consoles) the spacecraft.  You used the pushbuttons, singly and in combination, to pull up the various data screens you used at any given console.  Data screens displayed everything from real-time read-outs from the telemetry stream to calculated trajectory data of any number of different types.

Some consoles had a single CRT screen, some had two, a few had three.  There were also plain old warning/informational light panels, not connected to any pushbutton functions, that could be programmed on a flight-by-flight basis.  There were very few examples of typewriter-style keyboards; every console had its own specially designed interface.

As noted above, by the time of Apollo 11, the CRTs mainly showed sets of numbers pulled live from spacecraft telemetry or generated by the computers in the RTCC.  Video character generators were available by now, so the numbers were as up-to-date as possible (that is to say, anywhere from 6 to 30 seconds behind what was happening right at that instant).  During Gemini and even earlier Apollo missions, much of the calculated data coming from the computers couldn't be fed into character generators, so some of the flight controllers' screens were being generated by some guy in a back room with boxes full of letters and numbers, several light tables, and slow-scan B&W TV cameras shooting the light tables and relaying the data from them out to the consoles in the MOCR.

Even that was an advance over what they had at Mercury Control Center at Cape Canaveral, though.  Real-time capsule telemetry was read out on banks of meters, with little pointers in each meter dial indicating the value being read out by a given telemetry segment.  Not what I'd call a user-friendly interface.

-the other Doug
« Last Edit: 08/04/2009 08:31 pm by the_other_Doug »
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline Jim

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Re: Apollo 11 mission control room
« Reply #2 on: 08/05/2009 01:26 am »
IBM 360

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Apollo 11 mission control room
« Reply #3 on: 08/05/2009 02:48 am »
NASA actually produced a monograph on Mission Control... I think.

Alas, I just looked here:

http://history.nasa.gov/series95.html#monographs

It is not listed.  Perhaps it has not actually been published yet.  I do know that when they updated one of the control rooms that they were doing a lot to document it.  A good place to look for information would be here:

Tsiao, Sunny. “Read You Loud and Clear!” The Story of NASA’s Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network. NASA SP-2007-4233.

Unfortunately, that book does not appear to be on the net.  I've got a copy and it is very extensive.  You can buy a copy.

I'll call somebody at the history office and ask if they know anything about a Mission Control history.

Offline kyleg

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Re: Apollo 11 mission control room
« Reply #4 on: 08/05/2009 07:25 am »
thank you all for the info, I will also check out the book, any information on it at all would be great,.

~ KyleG

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