It's the first time NASA has publicly unveiled its redesigned mission control center. From inside, NASA says it plans to push the frontier of space far beyond what we know now.
Mission control is the heart of every endeavor to space. It's come a long way since the days of Apollo. Push buttons and dial phones still sit in the room. It's a national historic landmark, a stark contrast to today.
In the shuttle era, custom consoles and massive mainframes were built for NASA at considerable cost. Now though, as technology has advanced, even computers replaced just five years ago were ready for retirement. NASA spent the last three years and $60 million renovating the historic mission control from which so many shuttle missions were flown.
"Takes significantly less effort for our engineering and tech staff to maintain this equipment, to continue to provide more and more power to our flight controllers," Paul Hill said.
Just Thursday, crews conducted a simulation of the first test flight for Orion and the space launch system. The real deal is expected to launch later this year.
"It is an incredibly important mission.. It is the first in a long milestone of mission leading us to having our capability to go deeper into space than humans have ever gone before," NASA administrator Charles Bolden said.
As Bolden toured the rebuilt facility, he noted that Orion is in production. NASA, he says, is committed to flying it to Mars one day, bringing back science to benefit us all.
"Every single thing we do here at NASA is to bring a return here to Earth," Bolden said, "We're trying to make life better for people here on Earth."
NASA says a manned mission to Mars is still about 20 years away. But this first test flight of Orion sometime this fall will be one step closer to that.
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