Brave astronauts, flaring rockets, and majestic launches are only one side of the story of spaceflight. Any mission to space depends on years-if not decades-of work by thousands of dedicated individuals on the ground. These are the people whose voices offer a friendly link to Earth in the void of space, whose hands maneuver rovers across the face of planets, and whose skills guide astronauts home. This book is a long-overdue history of three major centers that have managed important missions since the dawn of the space age.
In Mission Control, Michael Johnson explores the famous Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, and the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany-each a strategically designedmicro-environment responsible for the operation of spacecraft and the safety of passengers.
Johnson explains the motivations behind the location of each center and their intricate design. He shows how the robotic spaceflight missions overseen in Pasadena and Darmstadt set these centers apart from Houston. He argues that the type of spacecraft and the missions they controlled-not the nations they represented-defined how the centers developed, yet they played vital national roles as space technology became a battleground for international power struggles in the Cold War years and even after.