Systems Engineering Seminar

Goddard Space Flight Center Flight Dynamics Facility
Support of Human Space Flight

Presented by:
Warren Mitchell, ai solutions, Inc
Syed Hasan, Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc
Jason Laing, ai solutions, Inc

Paper by:
Warren Mitchell, Jim Cappellari, Syed Hasan, Jason Laing, Pepper Powers, Nikki Wilcox, and Gary Williamson

July 13, 2010, 1:00 p.m.
Building 3 Auditorium


Goddard Space Flight Center Flight Dynamics Facility
Support of Human Space Flight

The GSFC Flight Dynamics Facility (FDF) has a long history of supporting America’s efforts in human space flight (HSF), stretching back to the earliest Mercury missions and on to today’s Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS) missions. The FDF is responsible for Space Network (SN) and Ground Network (GN) acquisition data generation and transmission in support of Space Shuttle missions, the ISS mission, and the ISS Visiting Vehicle missions, which include the Russian Soyuz, the European Space Agency (ESA) Autonomous Transfer Vehicle (ATV), and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV). The FDF also analyzes tracking data from the various SN and GN facililties in order to determine any biases in the data as well as to calibrate tracking sensors.

With so much history, it was natural that the FDF would participate in the many changes that have taken place in the Networks over the years that were required to support the many new HSF mission scenarios. Among the major changes that FDF personnel have seen are: (1) the arrival of a space vehicle, the Space Shuttle, that has a significant aerodynamic cross-range capability while flying in the atmosphere not seen in previous crewed space vehicles; (2) the need for a wide variety of contingency trajectories for the Space Shuttle that could safely return the crew in the event of a launch problem; (3) the use of inertial plane targeting (i.e., yaw steering) for launching Space Shuttle rendezvous missions to targets already in space, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the ISS; (4) and the deployment and use of the SN, which uses the space-based Tracking Data and Relay Satellite (TDRS) System instead of ground based systems. All of these changes, as well as others, required FDF personnel to develop new prime and backup support techniques and procedures that allows both the GN and the SN to maintain tracking and communications with HSF missions during all mission phases. Additionally, FDF personnel found that they could adapt these new support techniques, especially those pertaining to yaw steering and contingency support, to other, non-crewed missions that FDF supports, including Expendable Launch Vehicles such as Atlas or Delta, as well as the non-crewed ISS Visiting Vehicle ATV and HTV missions.



Photo of >Warren Mitchell Warren Mitchell has more than 32 years experience in support of the space shuttle program. He helped put together the first mission support plan for the first flight of Columbia in 1981. Mr. Mitchell has supported all space shuttle missions either as the prime FDF mission coordinator or as backup. He was instrumental in the training of new personnel in support of the programs return to flight after the Columbia accident.

He was been awarded both the Manned Flight Awareness and the Space Flight Awareness awards for contributions he has made to mission success. In addition, he was also awarded the Sliver Snoopy award for outstanding mission support. He earned his BS degree in Technology and Management degree from the University of Maryland.

Mr. Mitchell is an employee of a.i. solutions, Inc of Lanham, Maryland, which provides support for the FDF under the Flight Dynamics Support System (FDSS) contract.


Photo of >Syed Hasan Syed Hasan joined FDF in 2004, and has supported the STS and launch support activities since then. He received the SFA award in 2008 for his support of STS-124, when he averted a loss of communications with the shuttle during a critical phase of the landing. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland and received his MS in Aerospace Engineering from UMD in May, 2010. Mr. Hasan is employed by HTSI.



Photo of >Jason Laing

Jason Laing, an alumnus of the University of Maryland, began work in the FDF in July of 2008.  His main areas of work include TDRS and Expendable Launch Vehicle support.  He is currently training for maneuver support of the SOHO, WIND, and ACE missions.  In November of 2008, the launch of Shuttle Endeavor provided Jason with his first opportunity for support of the Shuttle program.    He looks forward to STS-133, his 10th shuttle support. Mr. Laing is an employee of a.i. solutions, Inc.



Photo of >James Cappellari

James Cappellari Has been involved in the U.S. Space Program for 49 years. He supported the Apollo Program for 11 years before coming to the FDF in 1964. He began supporting the Shuttle Program in 1983. One of his major achievements was working closely with White Sand Ground Terminal personnel to adapt the Space Network acquisition data (vector) processing implementation to maximize its flexibility in handling a wide variety of users, from aircraft to Expendable Launch Vehicles to the Space Shuttle, in all flight modes (launch, on-orbit, thrusting, and reentry). He has been heavily involved in the development of SN support for all Shuttle contingency cases requiring landing at emergency landing sites and in scripting and coordinating proficiency simulations to train FDF personnel in responding to Shuttle emergencies.

Dr. Cappellari is employed by Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc (HTSI), the subcontractor to a.i. solutions on the FDSS contract.



Photo of >Pepper Powers

Pepper Powers started working at FDF in 1989 as part of the FDF's Vector Management Team, which coordinated acquisition data for Space Network support of the Space Shuttle program.  He has since supported over 100 shuttle missions, many of them as an FDF Mission Manager.  He is also the FDF lead for ISS support, as well as ISS Visiting Vehicles, which includes Soyuz crew rotation missions as well as the European ATV and Japanese HTV logistics missions. Mr. Powers is employed by a.i. solutions, Inc. .



Photo of >Nikki Wilcox

Nikki Wilcox started working at FDF in 1997 as part of the FDF's Launch Vehicle support team.  She has since supported over 250 Space Shuttle and Expendable Launch Vehicle missions.  She currently supports all STS, ELV, and ISS missions, and is currently the mission lead for the ISS/Soyuz crew rotation missions.  Ms. Wilcox is employed by a.i. solutions, Inc. .



Photo of >Gary Williamson

Gary Williamson is a Systems Engineer currently employed by Honeywell at GSFC.  He has more than 30 years of experience providing tracking data evaluation support for the Ground Network and Space Network.  He has supported all of the STS missions and has engineered software used for analyzing STS tracking data. Gary holds a BS degree in Mathematics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute.  Mr. Williamson is an employee of HTSI.





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