Huntsville Operations Support Center

The Huntsville Operations Support Center (HOSC) is a facility at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. which supports Space Shuttle launch activities at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The HOSC also monitors rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station when a Marshall Center payload is on board.

During pre-mission testing, countdown and launch, Marshall and contractor engineers man consoles in the support center to monitor real-time data from the Space Shuttle orbiter. Their purpose is to evaluate and help solve technical problems that might occur with Marshall-developed Space Shuttle propulsion elements. Those elements are the Space Shuttle three Main Engines, External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters.

Sensors on board the Space Shuttle provide information about the “health” of these systems. That data is instantaneously transmitted from the launch pad via satellite to Marshall Center. This occurs both while the launch vehicle is on the launch site and also during ascent.

The HOSC is a two-story building located on the east side of the Marshall Center. The first floor includes all the communications, computers and video circuits which are then distributed throughout the HOSC.

In the Engineering Console Room on the second floor of the HOSC information from the launch site is displayed on more than a dozen workstations. More than 3,000 temperature, pressure, electrical voltage and other measurements are made every second. During the 10 hours of peak activity before and during a Space Shuttle launch, more than 11 million measurements are assessed by teams of experts in the support center.

Approximately 150 Marshall support center personnel view the Shuttle via two closed circuit television lines. They also have access to more than 25 direct communications lines that link them with the launch site at the Kennedy Center, Mission control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and with Shuttle propulsion system contractor plants.

If a problem is detected by the experts at one of the workstations in the support center console room, engineers on the consoles immediately alert appropriate individuals at Johnson and Kennedy, and operation center managers in the Shuttle Action Center, a conference room adjacent to the console room. They also pass the information to the appropriate teams of specialists in the operations center working area nearby. Separate teams work Space Shuttle Main Engine, External Tank, Solid Rocket Booster and range safety system difficulties.