Friday, July 29, 2011

July 28 Mission Control

By Patti Wieser

PPPL team teacher-researcher Matt VanKouwenberg is at the controls in the Apollo Mission Control Center at the Johnson Space Center. Photo by Patty Hillyer

Banks of controls and small blank computer screens filled the room, facing large screens. We were touring the Apollo Mission Control Center at the Johnson Space Center this afternoon while the last of our groups conducted their experiments aboard a zero-G flight. Dial phones, along with pneumatic tubes for sending messages — similar to those used at banks in the drive-through — were scattered among all the buttons on the government green consoles. One of the NASA guides said young visitors usually don’t know what the dial is. She said, too, that the message tubes sometimes had transported cigarettes and “other things” when the room operated.

The room has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

It reminded me of the old PBX — Princeton Beta Experiment — Control Room at PPPL, which was dismantled several years ago. It, too, had small screens for black-and-white-only images and data.

So much history — and so many wonderful discoveries — in space exploration and fusion research.

The last zero-G flight for our teams was this afternoon instead of tomorrow morning, bumped up because of storms in the forecast.

Tomorrow the teams make their final presentations.

What a week it has been.

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