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Progress marches on… but it still can be sad sometimes

by | Sep 3, 2013

FCR-1 during a Space Shuttle landing

FCR-1 during a Space Shuttle landing

I spent 12 years of my professional career at NASA in the Space Shuttle Mission Control Center (MCC) as a Flight Dynamics Officer, split between the Apollo-era Flight Control Room (FCR, known as “FCR-1”) and the new-at-the-time upgraded Shuttle FCR (known as the “White FCR”). During that transition, I was on the FDO team that worked our console requirements, display upgrades, space allocations, etc.

But, when we officially transitioned to the new Shuttle FCR, FCR-1 was kept intact as a (unofficial) historical monument to the many Shuttle missions flown from there (along with the Apollo 7, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz missions). FCR-2, upstairs from FCR-1, was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1985 and remains in the Apollo configuration to this day.

White FCR during Space Shuttle rendezvous mission

White FCR during Space Shuttle rendezvous mission

To support the International Space Station (ISS) program, FCR-1 was completely gutted and transformed into the current ISS FCR-1, removing the consoles (and the history) of that FCR that saw so many Space Shuttle missions.

When the Shuttle program came to an end with STS-135, the White FCR really served no direct purpose, as NASA had (for various budgetary and political reasons) not settled on or funded a follow-on program.

In 2012, a new upgrade program, called MCC-21, began upgrading the White FCR Multi-Purpose Support Rooms (MPSRs) that house support personnel for the Flight Controllers in the White FCR.

White FCR in MCC-21 configuration

White FCR in MCC-21 configuration (click to view)

Just recently, the MCC-21 project gutted and transformed the White FCR from the Shuttle configuration to a new set of hardware (and desks).

Gone are the iconic two-tone blue consoles of the Space Shuttle program… replaced by nondescript wooden desks and flat-panel monitors.

From the back it looks pretty cool…


If only we had a noble and well-funded space program that was worthy of the legacy that we forged there…

Husband, father, Space Cadet, techno-geek…
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