Answers Your Questions
| From: Andre Lovas, of Smyrna,
To: John Curry, flight director
Question: During docked operations, which MCC control room has precedence, shuttle or station? How is coordination handled between the two control rooms and with MCC-Moscow?
Answer: Hi Andre! Good question.
Let me first answer your question by stating that both the shuttle and the station flight control rooms, as well as MCC-Moscow, are all governed by the same joint flight rules. The flight rules document agreed-to decisions regarding joint operations -- operations that involve a combination of vehicles or crews. The rules are debated and reworked over several months during preflight, and define the guidelines of the docked operations.
To get back to your question, during the actual mission, both teams generally follow the predefined rules and procedures. The flight directors can talk to each other, if needed, and come to a joint agreement if something unique comes up. The shuttle and ISS flight directors caucus often, and the ISS flight director and the MCC-Moscow flight director can also communicate, if needed, although they are usually assisted by the RIO (Russian Interface Officer) for coordination.
Also, to ensure the flight control rooms stay coordinated, each discipline has a related counterpart in the other flight control room and in Moscow whom they talk to. For example, the GNC officer (Guidance, Navigation and Control) for shuttle and the ADCO officer (Attitude Determination and Control Officer) for the station coordinate frequently, and the ADCO and his Russian counterpart are all part of the Motion Control Systems Group.
And finally, my position, ACO (Assembly and Checkout Officer), is the only position that answers to both shuttle and station flight directors. This is because the cargo, which is being launched and activated at different times, involves both sets of crews and vehicles. We even shift control rooms during the mission. As such, the ACO works to ensure that the shuttle and station flight directors stay coordinated. If things get really hectic, occasionally the ACO steps in, but usually the flight directors do a fine job without us.
In terms of which flight control room has precedence, officially the ISS flight control team is the lead control room for the mission, but this tends to be in name only, as all the flight directors work hard to ensure both flight control rooms operate as one big team.
Enjoy watching the rest of the mission!
- Orbit 1 ACO, Lisa Fitch