D3 - Cori Schauer: Knobs, Buttons, & Dials: A Brief History of NASA Johnson Space Center's Mission Control Center

| | TrackBacks (0)

(a note: all facts' are NASAs, all opinions her own)
(the photos are particularly important for this one -- watch the talk if you're really interested)

for Molly: first slide is a picture of pneumatic tubes for mail, used in 1965!

mostly same room and equipment supported 3 vehicles over 34 years

innovation and change in mission control are "kinda not good words"
cool thing #1
"dial a display" in the control room
a TV that can dial into any display you want, using something that looks like a combination lock -- from a mainframe!
so you're dialing into a mainframe to change your display
hardwiring new displays is faster than implementing comparable software upgrades today, because everything needs to be certified

cool thing #2
"the loops"
look like ear buds -- a series of channels that you can listen to, so you can listen in to every conversation going on
at first it's madness, because you're listening to a "cacophony"
so you could be listening to 13 channels at once
"things don't change in NASA interaction design because people could die" -- because "you know it's going to work when you need it to work"
"risk is a pretty bad word"

cool thing #3
"station" -- the space station doesn't have a manual
it doesn't work like they thought it would -- 98% troubleshooting
so that means hacks become SOP
"you can design for one thing, but you usually get something else" ... especially when you build stuff in space
using cardboard models of the station to troubleshoot complex changes

debatable cool thing #4
"failure is not an option"
flight control culture created by one man
"to always be aware that suddenly and unexpectedly we may find ourselves in a role where our performance has ultimate consequences."
flight control, you can't forget, are friends with astronauts
people work crappy hours in tough environments making hard decisions every day
spaceflight is not routine, even though it seems routine. everything is risky.

the bad thing is: there's a lot of redundancy
"it's more satisfying to punch buttons"

What's next for manned space flight after the retirement of the shuttle?
outside commercial partners will provide vehicles
wow! a research project being talked looking at what it would mean to send astronauts to live beyond low earth orbit

q: nasa's goals in hiring an ethnographer?
Only a few. Cori joined as part of a software dev team. She is the lone ethnographer with designers and engineers.

q: the loops?
Very restrictive. Not even allowed to use outside IM -- NASA rolls its own. Although in the background there are TVs.

q: Do the audio channels get transcribed into text?
a: No. The "black box" has everything recorded by date and timestamp, so you can go back and transcribe if you have to.

q: will commercial partners just supply equipment?
a: up for debate.

q: how long before we lose this experience?
a: most flight controllers are already laid off. but the station is still flying.

"the hard things for humans in space is, do you trust the computer to be right?"

0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: D3 - Cori Schauer: Knobs, Buttons, & Dials: A Brief History of NASA Johnson Space Center's Mission Control Center.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.confectious.net/mt/mt-tb.cgi/967