MSFC/MSC OWS Computer Program Meeting

On January 15, 1970 we had a get-acquainted session for MSFC and MSC people who will be involved in the development and use of the Orbital Workshop (OWS) spacecraft computer program. Our basic objectives were:

a. For the working troops at these two centers to become acquainted with each other and understand how they work within their center and

b. To get some insight on how the two centers might work together in the most efficient and cooperative way.

In other words, we wanted to get frequent, informal communications started among the working people, which is absolutely essential if this job is going to get done properly. I think everyone present will agree that we satisfied these meeting objectives very nicely.

There is no reason to document here the little introduction speeches that made up most of the meeting, although accompanying this memo are copies of the viewgraphs Bill Chubb used. On the other hand, there were a few significant work areas needing attention and agreements reached worthy of reporting and the rest of this memo is devoted to that.

a. At the present time there appears to be no plan for an end-to-end software interface test between the MCC/RTCC and the OWS computer. Apparently it is not possible to carry out such a test when the spacecraft is on the pad. It may be possible to do something like this while the spacecraft is still in the VAB and people are going to look into that.

b. RTCC program verification is obviously a task that must be carried out with precision. This task for those programs used in conjunction with the OWS computer, such as the command and telemetry subsystems, will require assistance and support from MSFC people. In conjunction with this, MSC requested MSFC to informally explain in detail what their onboard program verification plans are during a get together in the near future. It seems quite probable that some of that effort may be utilized directly in the RTCC program verification such as telemetry tapes these tests must produce, and things of that nature. Basically, however, we are just identifying this as an area which will require some attention and coordination.

c. MSC people responsible for developing the MCC simulation complex and those responsible for the crew simulators have a similar need for detailed OWS computer program definition. Specifically, flight type program tapes and/or listings. They need these to develop high fidelity crew and flight control training aids and could use them as soon as they are available, even in bits and pieces. MSFC was made aware of this need and MSC will establish a single point of contact for receipt of this material.

d. Another point made on this same subject - the simulator - is brought about by the fact that the crew simulator for the OWS may not be set up to utilize actual flight programs as they do for mainline Apollo. On the other hand, in order to make sure training is true and that crew procedures and workarounds are really proper, it is necessary that some procedure be established for maintaining the simulator up-to-date as program changes are made and idiosyncrasies are discovered.

e. It was recognized by everyone that some sort of MSFC support will be required in real time during the AAP missions. We made no attempt at this time to define just what this would be or where the people would be located.

f. MSC has the job of defining exactly how we want to handle MSC distribution of the software related documentation generated by MSFC.

g. It was agreed that informal reviews of OWS computer program development should be held by a small number of people directly involved in this work as their need becomes apparent. For example, the first of these should occur around the last week of February to go over the Interface Program Requirements Document (IPRD) that MSFC will distribute in about a week. Another should occur in May to review the Interface Program Definition Document (IPDD) and to prepare ourselves to support the upcoming hardware CDR.

h. Our final discussion centered on the need for some sort of Operational Handbook to be used by the crew and flight controllers working with the OWS computer. Apparently some arrangements are already in the works to develop something like this, which may be entirely adequate. MFC has an immediate job to define exactly what is needed here and to determine if the documentation currently planned will be adequate and timely. If it is not, MSC may want to arrange for some assistance by MSFC not currently planned.

All in all, the consensus seemed to be that this was a pretty worthwhile session. The ball seems to be rolling now and we really don’t foresee any particular obstacle.

Terms & Abbreviations


Apollo Applications Program.


Critical Design Review.


Mission Control Center. Popularly known as “Houston” (as in “Houston, we have a problem”)


Manned Spacecraft Center. Now known as Johnson Space Center.


Marshall Space Flight Center


Real-Time Computer Complex. The IBM computing and data processing system at MSC.


Vehicle Assembly Building