v Preface Throughout my childhood, I was blown away, and inspired, by the amazing feats that NASA was accomplishing: walking on the moon sending probes to Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn flying a reusable Space Shuttle and building space stations. Twenty years ago, I got the privilege of joining the NASA team, in particular in the famed and historic Mission Control. I realized early on that success was not built on technological marvels but on the shoulders of the men and women who worked at NASA. It was the men and women who laid awake at night and worried about what could possibly go wrong. It was the men and women who put all their passion into making sure the systems and the procedures, often challenged by tight budgets or a changing political climate, met the mission objectives. These engineers and scientists work in numerous directorates in various cities across the country to support the International Space Station Program. The Program office then turns to the Flight Operations Directorate to operate the space station. When the mission is occurring, it is the people in Mission Control who are on the front line to protect the lives of our astronauts, also members of our team, while ensuring mission success. We spend much of our time in consultation with the engineers, trying to anticipate problems in advance so that we are prepared for any eventuality. But when a problem occurs, things become truly extraordinary. That is when the people of NASA—all of NASA—put aside personal commitments and differences, roll up their sleeves, and work together nonstop until the issue is resolved. In fact, the passion of these people makes the job look so easy. The general public does not have a full understanding of what is involved in either the successful missions or those hit with a serious malfunction. That is why we chose to write this book. We want the reader to get a glimpse into what we do in our daily lives in Mission Control. This is an unusual book. Half the chapters are devoted to operations, meaning what we do in real time during a mission. For the International Space Station, real time is continuous 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. These chapters will describe different operational aspects of “flight control.” However to get the full context, the remaining chapters will provide technical descriptions of the primary space station systems. Although not strictly required to understand the operations, they are intended to provide more information for proper context. Hopefully, these chapters are not too dense for the reader. A complete list of specific people to acknowledge, of which there are many, is in the back of this book. However, this project would not have been possible without the help, support, and full backing of the directors of the Flight Operations Directorate at Johnson Space Center, Paul Hill and Brian Kelly. Ginger Kerrick was also key in helping to find the financial support to back the director’s support. I must also thank my wife, Dorothea Lerman, who literally helped birth the book and provided early editing and feedback. Finally, we must acknowledge all the men and women who have worked in Mission Control from the first flight director, Christopher Kraft, to today. Literally everything we do today is based on lessons they learned and techniques they developed. Robert C. Dempsey Flight Director, Flight Operations Ad Astra Per Aspera
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