Introduction to Spacecraft Control Centers
This book covers the topic of satellite control centers. We'll take a look at the historical development of satellite control centers, from the earliest efforts of the iconic Apollo Mission Control at Houston. The primary focus will be NASA efforts, but similar facilities for other nation's spaceflight efforts will also be presented. This book is intended as an introduction to the subject. We'll look at the evolution of satellite control centers to understand how we got to where we are, and we'll look at evolving technology to see where we can go. As technology advances, we have a better basis for control centers, as well as cheaper yet more capable hardware, and better and more available software. With the proliferation of inexpensive Cubesat projects, colleges and universities, high school, and even individuals are getting their Cubesats launched. They all need control centers. For lower cost missions, these can be shared facilities. Communicating with and operating a spacecraft in orbit or on another planet is challenging, but is an extension of operating any remote system. We have communications and bandwidth issues, speed-of-light communication limitations, and complexity. Remote debugging is a always a challenge. The satellite control center is part of what is termed the Ground Segment, which also includes the communication uplink and downlink. The control center generates uplink data (commands) to the spacecraft, and receives, processes, and archives downlink (telemetry) data. Now, we can implement control-center-as-a service, and there are global colloborative networks for command and control.