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NE@Mercury Mission Control Room
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NE@Mercury Mission Control Room

Mercury Mission Control Center Exhibit
- Luis Berrios

Highlighting the historic and groundbreaking achievements during the Mercury program, NASA EDGE visits the original Mercury Mission Control Center and the newly restored Mercury Mission Control Center exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Program Design Specialist Luis Berrios talks about the many technical details that went into restoring this historic facility while trying to keep the Co-Host from playing flight director.

MISSION CONTROL: Looks good ol’ man. Boy, can you imagine? Here we go.

ASTRONAUT: Roger. Tape recorder running. 3 seconds. Cameras are both running. Okay. C-O Box power on.


[inaudible speaking]

MISSION CONTROL: T minus 50 seconds.

ASTRONAUT: Systems power, go.

ASTRONAUT: Roger, loud and clear. How many?

MISSION CONTROL: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0.

ASTRONAUT: Roger. The clock is operating. We’re underway.

MISSION CONTROL: Hear you loud and clear.

ASTRONAUT: Roger. We’re programming in roll okay. Little bumpy along about here.

CHRIS: We have a treat for you today. We’re here at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

BLAIR: With Luis Berrios and what appears to be an actual Mission Control Center but it’s not. It’s a restoration.

LUIS: What we have here is a recreation with a lot of authenticity from the original Mission Control Center Facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This particular mission control center, the consoles, all the hardware and strip printers, the tracking map that we see behind us were all relocated from that facility and brought together here. We’ve done a very good job of creating as much of an authentic recreation as we can with the finishes, the flooring, and the architectural elements. But the real heart and soul and the essence of this room are these consoles.

CHRIS: This control center was actually used during the Mercury program.

LUIS: It was. It was used for six flights during the Mercury program, and one flight, the first flight, Gemini 3, that sent two astronauts into space. That flight was piloted by John Young and Gus Grissom. This was state of the art back in 1961. This was the cutting edge of technology.

BLAIR: Cutting edge, that’s important.

CHRIS: That’s right. We like it.

BLAIR: You say it’s authentic. If you’re putting together an exhibit like this, you can’t go buy stuff like this. It existed specifically for the purposes…

LUIS: That’s really important because part of the story telling, our commitment to creating emotional connections about NASA’s work and celebrating the human accomplishments comes from integrating authentic hardware, consoles, spacecrafts, tools, astronaut suits. When we can carefully choreograph their presentation into our story telling, we create homeruns.

CHRIS: This is really cool because the public gets a chance to see what it looked like during that period.

LUIS: It’s neat because our guests are made up of family experience. It’s neat to see the reaction when a grandparent comes in with their grandchild and says, I remember seeing those on the black and white TV set back when you weren’t even around.

BLAIR: Speaking of that, you were talking about authenticity. Did you bring in former folks that actually worked in Mission Control? Did it pass the authenticity test?

LUIS: Very much so. It really opens up a memory for them and in some cases gives them the goose bumps they felt when they were right at the moment when they were a big part of what was going on with our space exploration program.

CHRIS: What’s really cool is when a grandfather brings in their grandchild and sees one of the original consoles. What’s it going to be like 20 years down the road in terms of what Mission Control might look like?

LUIS: That’s the beauty of that. Look how far we’ve come and yet look how far we’ll go. We don’t even know. We’re just scratching the surface of the accomplishments and achievements that NASA is going to honor and celebrate in the years to come. And the fact that this Mission Control Center is here since 1998, we’ve been able to share this with over 10 million people.


LUIS: That’s something we couldn’t do very easily at its original location.

CHRIS: That’s right.

MISSION CONTROL: Roger. Reading you loud and clear.

ASTRONAUT: Roger, coming into high Q a little bit; and a little contrail went by the window or something there.

ASTRONAUT: We’re smoothing out now, getting out of the vibration area.

MISSION CONTROL: Roger. You’re through max. Q. Your flight path is

ASTRONAUT: Roger. Feels good, through max. Q and smoothing out real fine.

ASTRONAUT: Cabin pressure coming down by 7.0 okay; flight very smooth now.

ASTRONAUT: Sky looking very dark outside.

CHRIS: Unbelievable room.

BLAIR: Oh wow!

CHRIS: Don’t you hear voices?

BLAIR: Yeah. It’s as if you can hear history.

CHRIS: Yeah.

BLAIR: Look at this.

ASTRONAUT: Indicating 6 g’s.

ASTRONAUT: SECO, posigrades fired okay.

ASTRONAUT: Roger. Zero-g and I feel fine. Capsule is turning around. Oh that view is tremendous!

ASTRONAUT: I can see the booster during turnaround just a couple of hundred yards behind me. It was beautiful.

MISSION CONTROL: Roger, Seven. You have to go at least 7 orbits.

ASTRONAUT: Roger. Understand go for at least 7 orbits.

ASTRONAUT: This is Friendship Seven. Can see clear back; a big cloud pattern way back across towards the Cape. Beautiful sight.

LUIS: There’s a tremendous amount of responsibility on each of the gentlemen that manned the consoles in this room and the consequent had a very specific roll. Their job was to manage the content, track the data that was coming in for the spacecraft, for the astronauts’ bio-rhythms; their pulse, their heart rate, their blood pressure. That would help them make decisions.

MISSION CONTROL: Roger. Your impact point is within 1 mile of the up-range destroyer.

ASTRONAUT: Roger. Okay, we’re through the peak g now.

MISSION CONTROL: Seven, this is Cape. What’s your general condition? Are you feeling pretty well?

ASTRONAUT: My condition is good, but that was a real fireball, boy. I had great chunks of that retro-pack breaking off all of the way through.

ASTRONAUT: Roger. Altimeter off the peg indicating 80,000.

MISSION CONTROL: Roger. Reading you loud and clear.


LUIS: Along the map you have these circles that follow the tracking stations along the orbital path. The red ones represent a circle where there may be a problem with that particular tracking station that they’re working. The yellow ones mean they’re okay but have a couple of small things and the green ones mean they’re a go. They keep constant traction on how that spacecraft if making its path along the orbital.

ASTRONAUT: I’m getting all kinds of contrails and stuff outside out here.

ASTRONAUT: Friendship Seven, going to drogue early. Rocking fairly, drogue came out.

ASTRONAUT: Drogue is out.

ASTRONAUT: Roger. Drogue came out at 30,000 at about a 90-degree yaw.

ASTRONAUT: Main chute in on green. Chute is out, in reef condition at 10,800 feet and beautiful chute. Chute looks good. Rate of descent has gone to about 42 feet per second. The chute looks very good.

ASTRONAUT: This is Friendship Seven, standing by for impact.

ASTRONAUT: Friendship Seven. Getting close. Standing by.

ASTRONAUT: Here we go.

[water splashes]

ASTRONAUT: Friendship Seven. Impact. Rescue aids is manual.

BLAIR: Earlier I was walking around and I flipped about every switch imaginable. It’s not wired to anything, right? There’s no jeopardy there?

LUIS: What we’ve tried to do is create some of the animations. These buttons have lights behind them but they’re not right now wired or working to cause a catastrophic event.

BLAIR: That’s good.

CHRIS: I want to clarify. It’s safe to say that if Blair doesn’t touch any of these buttons those rockets in the rocket garden aren’t taking off.

LUIS: Unfortunately no. We’re not able to do any live demonstrations in that regard. We are able to share that there is a lot of hardware, a lot of buttons to push and a lot of knobs and gauges to keep track of. It’s very serious work.

CHRIS: Luis, I want to thank you for giving us the opportunity…

LUIS: It was a pleasure to talk to you guys.

CHRIS: …to see this beautifully restored Mission Control Center.

BLAIR: Maybe one day you can wire this up for me to launch my own lunar missions possibly.

LUIS: You know what, when you’re ready you let me know. We’ll see what we can do.

BLAIR: You might lose on the authenticity at that point.

LUIS: But it will be relevant.

CHRIS: You’re watching NASA EDGE.

BLAIR: An inside and outside look at all things NASA.


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