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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.Image of one of the firing rooms at Kennedy Space Cener.
+ NASA Home > Mission Sections > Space Shuttle > Return to Flight > Launch and Landing
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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 Wayne Hale
Wayne Hale
Mission Management Team (MMT) Chairman
Hale is 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 MMT 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 (LD)
The Launch Director, in turn, 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 MMT 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 (NTD)
The NASA Test Director 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 NTD 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 (LWO)
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. She 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.
Scott Higginbotham, ISS Mission Manager
Scott Higginbotham
ISS Mission Manager for LF-1 (KMM)
The ISS Mission Manager for LF-1 (Logistics Flight-1) leads the team of engineers and technicians that assemble and test the International Space Station (ISS) experiments and hardware that are flying on mission STS-114. He is the primary interface with the payload customers and is responsible for solving any technical issues that may arise with any of the ISS hardware.
Stephanie Stilson, Vehicle Manager
Stephanie Stilson
NASA Vehicle Manager
The NASA Vehicle Manager 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 (ALD)
The Assistant Launch Director assists the Launch Director in the execution of his launch countdown responsibilities. Lyons is a launch manager and shares responsibilitis with other launch managers for the integration of the multiple processing flows across the Shuttle fleet.
Pete Nickolenko, Assistant NASA Test Director
Pete Nickolenko
Assistant NASA Test Director (ANTD)
The ANTD is responsible for management of launch team and launch procedure for the terminal countdown through his support of the NASA Test Director. His 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.
Larry Crawford, Safety & Health
Larry Crawford
Director of Safety and Mission Assurance (S&MA)
As director of Safety and Mission Assurance, Crawford 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 George Diller
George Diller
NASA Launch Commentator
The NASA Launch Commentator is the spokesperson for Kennedy Media Services. He monitors all communications and polls conducted by the key Launch Team members in the Firing Room and describes the milestone countdown events. His commentary is broadcast via NASA Television to media organizations and space enthusiasts worldwide.

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