Firing Room 1: Adding One More "First"
If rooms could boast about an illustrious past, then the Launch Control Center's Firing Room 1 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida would have ample reason. Soon another chapter of launch history will be written from there as the Ares I-X launch team assembles in the newly remodeled nerve center for the rocket's flight test.
A gathering on Sept. 25 honored the history and marked the firing room's new mission as the Constellation Program officially took possession of the facility.
Among those with special ties to the firing room was astronaut Bob Crippen, who, along with John Young, flew the first space shuttle mission. The firing room was used for that launch and named in their honor a few years ago.
"I expect nothing but success from this firing room in the future," said Crippen.
"Getting ready to launch the Ares out of this firing room is an important event. The future of human spaceflight is dependent on it, in my opinion."
He concluded, "We're going to have hundreds of launches right out of this control room that John and I are very proud to have our names on."
Bob Cabana, Kennedy's director and veteran shuttle astronaut, explained that the new design of the firing room allows it to be configured for whatever the future launch needs might be.
"It's great to be here because this is our future," said Cabana. "We're going to be launching rockets, we're going to be exploring beyond low Earth orbit, we're going to be sending humans and payloads to space, and it's going to happen from this firing room."
Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley explained that the room already is serving the program, being used the previous week for an Ares I-X launch simulation, as well as for powered testing of the actual rocket.
"I'm so proud of the team that has continued to go forward with our plan," Hanley said. "This room is evidence of that. The rocket that is stacked in High Bay 3 is evidence of that."
Follow the Ares I-X flight test
Cheryl L. Mansfield
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center