Encyclopedia Astronautica
Space Operations Center



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Space Ops Center-81
Space Operations Center
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
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Space Ops Center-81
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
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Space Operations Center
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
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Space Ops Center-82
Space Operations Center
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
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Space Ops Center-81
Space Operations Center
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
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Space Operations Center. NASA's Johnson Spaceflight Center extended the Boeing contract in February 1982 to study a cheaper, modular, evolutionary approach to assembling the Space Operations Center. Depicted here is the initial power module, which consists of solar arrays and radiators.
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
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Space Ops Center-82
Space Operations Center. The next launches would have delivered a space tug "garage", two pressurized crew modules and a logistics module.
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
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Space Operations Center. The completed Space Operations Center also would have contained a satellite servicing & assembly facility and several laboratory modules.
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
American manned space station. Study 1979. The Space Operations Center was proposed by NASA's Johnson Spaceflight Center in 1979.

Like most other space station studies from the mid/late 1970s its primary mission was the assembly and servicing of large spacecraft in Earth orbit -- not science. NASA/JSC signed a contract with Boeing in 1980 to further develop the design. Like most NASA space station plans, SOC would be assembled in orbit from modules launched on the Space Shuttle. The crew's tour of duty would have been 90 days. NASA originally estimated the total cost to be $2.7 billion, but the estimated cost had increased to $4.7 billion by 1981. SOC would have been operational by 1990.

NASA's Johnson Spaceflight Center extended the Boeing contract in February 1982 to study a cheaper, modular, evolutionary approach to assembling the Space Operations Center. An initial power module would consist of solar arrays and radiators. The next launches would have delivered a space tug 'garage', two pressurized crew modules and a logistics module. The completed Space Operations Center also would have contained a satellite servicing and assembly facility and several laboratory modules. Even with this revised approach, however, the cost of the SOC program had grown to $9 billion. Another problem was Space Operations Center's primary mission: spacecraft assembly and servicing. The likely users (commercial satellite operators and telecommunications companies) were not really interested in the kind of large geostationary space platforms proposed by NASA. By 1983, the only enthusiastic users for NASA's space station plans were scientists working in the fields of microgravity research and life sciences. Their needs would dictate future space station design although NASA's 1984 station plans did incorporate a SOC-type spacecraft servicing facility as well.

Article by Marcus Lindroos

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Associated Countries
See also
  • US Space Stations Wernher von Braun brought Noordung's rotating station design with him from Europe. This he popularized in the early 1950's in selling manned space flight to the American public. By the late 1950's von Braun's team favoured the spent-stage concept - which eventually flew as Skylab. By the mid-1960's, NASA was concentrating on modular, purpose-built, zero-G stations. These eventually flew as the International Space Station. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Proton-K Russian orbital launch vehicle. Development of a three-stage version of the UR-500 was authorised in the decree of 3 August 1964. Decrees of 12 October and 11 November 1964 authorised development of the Almaz manned military space station and the manned circumlunar spacecraft LK-1 as payloads for the UR-500K. Remarkably, due to continuing failures, the 8K82K did not satisfactorily complete its state trials until its 61st launch (Salyut 6 / serial number 29501 / 29 September 1977). Thereafter it reached a level of launch reliability comparable to that of other world launch vehicles. More...
  • Shuttle American winged orbital launch vehicle. The manned reusable space system which was designed to slash the cost of space transport and replace all expendable launch vehicles. It did neither, but did keep NASA in the manned space flight business for 30 years. Redesign of the shuttle with reliability in mind after the Challenger disaster reduced maximum payload to low earth orbit from 27,850 kg to 24,400 kg. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • NASA Houston American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. Houston, Houston, USA. More...

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