When this section was originally written for -THE TRENCH-, the Space Shuttle program was still ongoing and the Flight Dynamics Officer was an active position in Mission Control.

Since 2011 and the end of the Shuttle Program, the FDO, a mainstay in the US Manned Space Program since the Mercury Program, has been retired. Trajectory monitoring for the International Space Station (ISS) Program is done in a much more automated and far less dynamic manner, negating the need for the FDO position of an active earth-launched spacecraft. In addition, the computational capabilities have become more distributed and the actual displays are far different than these.

HOWEVER – in the spirit of capturing memories from the Space Shutttle era, this is an exclusive “over-the-shoulder” view of what the Flight Dynamics Officer looks at in the Mission Control Center during Space Shuttle missions!

Space Shuttle missions are divided into three major operational phases, each with their own unique sets of displays. This one of a kind, behind-the-scenes peek into MCC operations will give you insight into each of them!

If you have any questions about anything presented here, feel free to contact me.

ASCENT

FDO displays

A Space Shuttle ascent has been called “the most exciting 8.5 minutes ever”. Take a look at what the FDO is watching during this dynamic phase of the flight – both nominal ascent and planning/executing any of the various Ascent Aborts.

ORBIT

FDO displays

Once the Shuttle is on-orbit, the FDO’s job is only beginning!  From precise trajectory determination to detailed maneuver planning to rendezvous and deploy operations, the FDO is busy keeping an eye on “all things trajectory”.

ENTRY

FDO displays

Entry operations take the Shuttle from 17,500 MPH to a dead-stop on a runway half-a-world-away in about an hour.  See what the FDO is doing during both the planning of the deorbit burn and the monitoring of the atmospheric flight!

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-THE TRENCH-

The space exploration advocacy website of Roger Balettie, former Flight Dynamics Officer in NASA’s Space Shuttle Mission Control Center.

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FLIGHT DYNAMICS OFFICER

The Flight Dynamics Officer (FDO, pronounced “fido”) is a Flight Controller in the Mission Control Center responsible for the overall trajectory, or flight path, of the Space Shuttle and all related payloads or other space-bound vehicles associated with the Shuttle.

Read about the:

MISSION CONTROL

"Houston… Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

Since 1965, the Mission Control Center (MCC) has been the nerve center for America’s manned space program.

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Space- and NASA-based blog entries.

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13 Minutes – a podcast review

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