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Firing Room 1 Gets a New Look
There are exciting changes ahead at Kennedy Space Center, and the first step toward supporting future launches for NASA's Constellation Program is taking place in Firing Room 1 at the Launch Control Center.

The Shuttle Processing Transition Team is working to decommission the firing room, also known as FR1, for transfer to the program by no later than January.

Plaque near Firing Room 1 honoring John Young and Robert Crippen. The transition team held management briefings and determined that FR1 decommissioning would pose no risk to the Space Shuttle Program, which will use Firing Room 4 for all remaining launches.

Image right: Firing Room 1 was rededicated the Young/Crippen Firing Room to honor their historic first space shuttle flight. Image credit: NASA/Kim Schiflett
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"Firing Room 1 is the first such facility to be transferred to the Constellation Program for reuse," said George Jacobs, NASA shuttle program transition manager.

FR1 recently was renamed the Young/Crippen Firing Room, in honor of Commander John Young and Pilot Robert Crippen as a tribute to their first space shuttle flight on mission STS-1 in April of 1981.

Mario Busacca of the Environmental Program Branch said the Launch Control Center is listed as an historic property on the National Register of Historic Places.

Before work began, NASA analyzed the activity to determine if it would have an adverse effect on the property and shared plans for the decommissioning with the State Historic Preservation Office. According to Busacca, it was determined that removing the equipment from FR1 wouldn't cause the facility to lose its historic value.

"It is sad because this signals the end of an era," said Vince Cubero, a United Space Alliance ground project manager. "But we're happy because we are moving forward from one chapter to another in the manned exploration program."

Management team at Firing Room 1 consoles during mission dress rehearsal. Image left: The Mission Management Team sit at the consoles of Firing Room 1 at Kennedy's Launch Control Center for a launch simulation countdown. Image credit: NASA/KSC
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The nation's Vision for Space Exploration calls for human and robotic explorers to return to the moon by the end of the next decade. Orion, the next generation of spacecraft to carry crew and supplies, and the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles already are being designed to fulfill the vision.

Curtis Williams, launch processing hardware and system software co-lead, said it's exciting to consider that the transition is one of the first steps toward providing an infrastructure that will eventually support mankind's return to the moon. He shared a little-known fact about FR1: the "Master Console" sign carries the signatures of many notable visitors, including Prince Charles and Prince Andrew and astronauts Bob Crippen and Story Musgrave.

"It is tremendously exciting to begin to see the physical transformation of the historic firing room that launched Apollo 11 and 13, as well as the first shuttle launch in 1981," said Mike Leinbach, NASA launch director. "This firing room will play a key role in our Vision for Space Exploration as we prepare to launch the demonstration flight for Constellation -- ARES 1-1 in 2009 -- and pave the way for manned missions starting in 2012."

Linda Herridge and Elaine Marconi, Staff Writers
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center