Kennedy Engineers to Support Liftoff of World’s Most Powerful Rocket

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The Kennedy Ground Control System team poses after signing a banner at Kennedy Space Center's Operations Support Building II.

The Kennedy Ground Control System team poses at Kennedy Space Center’s Operations Support Building II after signing a banner to celebrate receiving authorization to operate. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Liftoff of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft from Launch Complex 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will require a symphony of tightly coordinated commands for processing and launch. Kennedy engineers recently achieved authorization to operate the Kennedy Ground Control Subsystem, which is a network of controls, during hazardous operations at the Multi-Payload Processing Facility. The processing facility is used to prepare Orion for its test flight atop the SLS.

To gain authorization to operate, Kennedy updated access to the subsystem network and equipment, ensuring the network is secure from all malicious threats, whether internal or external. Kennedy now is prepared to support hazardous operations and ensure that the network meets agency standards for network and physical protection.

According to Reggie Martin, a NASA electrical engineer in the Engineering Development Lab at the center, an authorization is good for only one year.

“Each subsequent authorization is a review to ensure we continue to operate at the level first certified to operate,” Martin said. “It also includes a review of any new equipment or operations to ensure they are properly incorporated as we get closer to the launch of NASA’s Space Launch System on Exploration Mission-1.”

The subsystem of the Spaceport Command and Control System is the main integration network system between ground support equipment at various locations around Kennedy and the Launch Control Center. The network interfaces with ground support equipment, such as sensors, valves and heaters, with systems in the Vehicle Assembly Building, the mobile launcher, the Launch Abort System Facility, the processing facility and on Launch Pad 39B to facilitate monitoring and control of subsystem processes.

“We’re responsible for ensuring all ground operations are transmitted to ground support equipment to ensure timely launch processing and vehicle launch from the launch pad,” said Martin.

Martin led a team of NASA and contractor engineers in the integrated design, fabrication, installation, verification and validation of the mission’s operational information and security requirements in support of hazardous operations.

The subsystem is monitored by NASA and contractor engineers from consoles located in the Launch Control Center’s Firing Room 1.

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