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Attached to the enormous Vehicle Assembly Building, the four-story Launch Control Center (LCC) serves as the electronic brain of Kennedy's Launch Complex 39.

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Image of Firing Room during a Space Shuttle launch.Firing Room 4 at Kennedy Space Center
+ NASA Home > Mission Sections > Space Shuttle > Launch and Landing > STS-121
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Meet the Launch Team

Launch team members share the responsibility and excitement of launching space shuttle missions. They report to their respective computer or communication consoles following the "call to stations" for the final countdown. Many of the consoles are located in the firing rooms in Kennedy's launch control center, next door to the vehicle assembly building in launch complex 39. Here are some of the key members with descriptions of their responsibilities during the events that lead up to the liftoff of a space shuttle orbiter.

Mission Management Team Chairman John Shannon
John Shannon
Mission Management Team Chairman
Shannon is the deputy manager of the space shuttle program and chairman of the mission management team. He shares associate responsibilities for overall management, integration, and operations of the space shuttle program, and as management team chairman, polls the other members of the team to confirm their agreement to continue with the launch.
Mike Leinbach, Launch Director
Mike Leinbach
Launch Director
Leinbach polls the payload manager, the shuttle engineering director, the cape weather officer and the director of safety to get a launch consensus and verifies that the NASA test and mission management team directors are in agreement. The launch director is responsible for making the final "go/no-go" decision to proceed with the launch.
NASA Test Director Jeff Spaulding
Jeff Spaulding
NASA Test Director
Spaulding is the leader of the shuttle test team responsible for directing and integrating all flight crew, orbiter, external tank/solid rocket booster and ground support testing throughout the shuttle launch countdown. The test director also is responsible for the safety of all personnel inside the pad after external tank loading, including the flight crew. He reports to the launch director.
Launch Weather Officer Kathy Winters
Kathy Winters
Launch Weather Officer
The launch weather officer, located at the Range Operations Control Center on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, evaluates range and shuttle weather launch commit criteria. Winters is in constant contact with the launch director and landing recovery director during the countdown, and is polled by the launch director during the final launch poll.
Deborah Hahn, ISS Payload Processing Mission Manager
Debbie Hahn
International Space Station Mission Manager
The international space station mission manager leads the team of engineers and technicians that assemble and test the station experiments and hardware that are flying on mission STS-121. Hahn is the primary interface with the payload customers and is responsible for solving any technical issues that may arise with any of the station hardware.
Stephanie Stilson, Vehicle Manager
Stephanie Stilson
NASA Flow Director
Stilson, the NASA flow director for Space Shuttle Discovery is responsible for the integration, scheduling and conduct of orbiter Discovery's processing operations and launch countdown.
Assistant Launch Director, Doug Lyons
Doug Lyons
Assistant Launch Director
As the assistant launch director, Lyons assists the launch director in the execution of his launch countdown responsibilities. He also is a launch manager and shares responsibilities with other launch managers for the integration of the multiple processing flows across the shuttle fleet.
NASA insignia meatball
Steve Payne
Assistant NASA Test Director
Payne is responsible for management of launch team and launch procedure for the terminal countdown through his support of the NASA test director. The test director's special duties include management of the countdown clock with the ground launch sequencer operator, and management of any special crews sent to the pad for major issues or emergencies.
Dennis Kross, Director of Safety and Mission Assurance
Dennis A. Kross
Director of Safety and Mission Assurance
As director of safety and mission assurance, Kross is the advisory member to the mission management team. In this capacity, he is responsible for reviewing the rationale in decision-making, for ensuring that dissenting opinions are encouraged, and for calling on additional resources to respond to short turnaround issues.
NASA Launch Commentator Bruce Buckingham
Bruce Buckingham
NASA Launch Commentator
Buckingham serves as the Kennedy Space Center news chief and the NASA launch commentator for mission STS-121. He monitors all communications and polls conducted by the key launch team members in the firing room and describes the milestone countdown events. Buckingham's commentary is broadcast via NASA television to media organizations and space enthusiasts worldwide.

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