By Vladimir LOBACHEV, Dr. Sc. (Tech.), Director of Mission Control Center
Managing the mission of a modern spacecraft is a task of major technical complexity which covers the activities of the crew, the functioning of the on-board systems and dealing with a range of research and economic tasks and objectives embraced by the mission program.
The key role in dealing with this host of problems belongs to the Main Mission Control Center (TsUP)-the main R&D center of the Central Research Institute of Mechanical Engineering-the brain trust of Russia's Aerospace Agency. Its experts not only conduct on- the-spot assessment of the feedback from various spacecraft, but also control them on their missions, maintain coordination with ground services on the cosmodrome, and the command-and-measuring and search-and-rescue complexes, the Cosmonauts Training Center, the academic and specialized R&D organizations, designers of the appropriate equipment and also with the mass media.
The Center is in charge of the MIR mission launched on February 20, 1986, of the International Space Station whose construction was started in orbit on November 20, 1998, the flight of the OKEAN-0 space probe which is conducting remote sounding of the earth surface and of the World Ocean, and the booster stage of the Zenith-3 SL carrier rocket ("Marine Start" international project). The Center has on its record the Buran mission, and the unmanned missions to the Moon, Venus, Halley's Comet, Mars and its Fobos satellite.
The Center counts the beginning of its operation from the historic launch in the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957 of the world's first Sputnik artificial satellite. Codenamed by its designers by an abbreviation PS-1 (meaning "first one") it was equipped with only two automatically activated radio transmitters, a power source, ventilator and pressure and temperature sensors. But even at that initial stage it became quite clear that we had to have a specialized data coll ... Read more