Science & Technology

NASA Certifies New Launch Control System for Artemis I Mission

Illustration of Orion spacecraft performing a trans-lunar injection burn. Credit score: NASA

When NASA’s (SLS) rocket and raise off from the company’s Kennedy House Heart in Florida on the Artemis I mission, the quantity of knowledge generated by the rocket, spacecraft, and floor assist tools can be about 100 megabytes per second. The quantity and velocity of this data calls for an equally advanced and strong pc system to course of and ship that knowledge to the launch group and corresponding mission programs in actual time.

That pc software program and {hardware} – known as the spacecraft command and management system (SCCS) – is now licensed for use on Artemis I. Shawn Quinn, director of NASA Engineering at Kennedy, and the KSC Engineering Design Certification Evaluate Board signed off on the system on the conclusion of a latest design certification assessment for SCCS.

Members of the Artemis I launch group take part in a countdown simulation contained in the Launch Control Heart’s Firing Room 1 at NASA’s Kennedy House Heart in Florida on February 3, 2020. A group of practically 100 engineers from Orion, House Launch System and Exploration Floor Techniques got here collectively to work by way of a sequence of simulated challenges, in addition to a last countdown process. Artemis I would be the first built-in tet flight of the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket – the system that can in the end land the primary lady and the following man on the Moon. Credit score: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The system is the digital hub the place data touring to and from the SLS core stage, the rocket’s Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), Orion, floor programs, and the operators contained in the firing room intersect. Throughout loading and launch, the software program will course of as much as 575,000 modifications per second.

“We’re flying three automobiles in parallel – Orion spacecraft, ICPS, and SLS core stage – and SCCS wants to have the ability to talk with all three concurrently,” mentioned Mike Van Houten, the Launch Control System venture supervisor within the Command, Control and Communications group inside EGS. “Whereas we’re ‘speaking’ with the spacecraft and automobiles, we’re additionally receiving knowledge from Kennedy’s floor programs – programmable logic controllers, subsystems within the discipline, and tools on the cell launcher.”

Making sense of that a lot knowledge is as advanced as effectively managing the true time actions of lots of of hundreds of individuals inside a big metropolitan space, Van Houten mentioned.

NASA Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson follows operations at her console in Firing Room 1 on the Kennedy House Heart’s Launch Control Heart throughout a countdown simulation for Artemis I. It was the company’s first simulation of a portion of the countdown for the primary launch of a House Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft that can ultimately take astronauts past low-Earth orbit to locations such because the Moon and Mars. Credit score: NASA/Cory Huston

“Every little bit of telemetry knowledge coming from a unique interface is sort of a particular person arriving into the town by way of a airplane, practice, car, bus, or ferry,” he defined. “Similar to every particular person, every bit of knowledge must arrive at a novel vacation spot, whether or not that’s a show, software, or recording. And all of the actions should be synchronized so knowledge arrives precisely the place it must be within the quickest timeframe potential.”

All this data is built-in into the shows proven on consoles all through Firing Room 1 and Firing Room 2 inside Kennedy’s Launch Control Heart, enabling Operators to make knowledgeable choices on easy methods to proceed the exercise in progress.

Members of the Artemis I launch group take part in a countdown simulation contained in the Launch Control Heart’s Firing Room 1 at NASA’s Kennedy House Heart in Florida on Feb. 3, 2020. Credit score: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Comprising a mixture of custom-built software program and off-the-shelf merchandise, the SCCS was developed particularly to handle processing and launch operations for Artemis missions. As Artemis started to take form, NASA’s Exploration Floor Techniques (EGS) group and its lead contractor, Jacobs, superior the trouble to develop a strong, up to date system.

The certification marks the tip of the system’s improvement and alerts the beginning of the “sustaining” part of the venture for Artemis I. Transferring ahead, countdown and launch simulations carried out by the EGS-Jacobs group will assist practice the launch group and fine-tune the SCCS.

Throughout these simulations, Operators step by way of prelaunch checklists to apply the procedures for liftoff and ascent. Some simulations give attention to particular operations whereas others stroll the group by way of important parts of the countdown. Every rehearsal permits the group to collect helpful knowledge to refine the system.

“The SCCS system engineering and efficiency groups consider the info after every simulation to make sure the system is performing per specs and no sudden errors had been triggered,” Van Houten mentioned. “It offers the SCCS group a sign of the place we have to deal with issues earlier than the following sim or operational occasion.”

Classes realized from launching the uncrewed Artemis I will assist SCCS builders determine course of, efficiency, and technical modifications wanted for future missions. The builders will give attention to capturing new necessities and the expectations of stakeholders such because the Artemis I launch director, firing room operators, the bottom assist tools group, the bottom to flight software software program group, the mannequin and simulation group, and the launch coaching group. This data will assist the SCCS builders make system upgrades to assist the crewed Artemis II flight check and future missions.

Beneath the Artemis program, NASA is main the best way in human exploration of deep house with more and more advanced missions to discover the Moon and put together for future missions to ship astronauts to Mars.

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