Payload Operations and Integration Center

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The Payload Operations Control Room in the Huntsville Operations Support Center, Marshall Space Flight Center

Also known as Huntsville Operations Support Center (HOSC) or Payload Operations Center, it is a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) facility that works in conjunction with the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Control Centers in Houston, Texas. The Payload Operations Center at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is the headquarters for International Space Station science operations. This Control Center links Earth-bound researchers and developers from around the world with their experiments and astronauts aboard the International Space Station.


Here is a list of every day tasks for this center during the life of the International Space Station:

  • Integrates research requirements
  • Plans science missions
  • Ensures the safe execution of science
  • Integrates the crew and ground team training and research mission timelines
  • Manages use of space station payload resources
  • Handles science communications with the crew
  • Manages commanding and data transmissions to and from the orbiting research center.


The Operations Center is staffed around the clock by three shifts of flight controllers.

Payload Operations Center[edit]

Console Positions[edit]

A total of seven flight controllers staff the Payload Operations Center front room. They are:

Payload Operations Director (POD)[edit]

The POD manages day-to-day operations of payloads on board the space station. This position is the single point-of-authority to the International Space Station Mission Control Center Flight Director in Houston for all of NASA’s payload operations. The POD oversees team members responsible for managing payload mission planning, ground commanding of space station payloads, communications with the crew, use of the payload support system, the video system and the data systems. The POD ensures compliance with established safety requirements, flight rules and payload regulations. The POD also leads the review and approval of all change requests to the timeline.

Operations Controller (OC)[edit]

The Operations Controller leads a team that is responsible for maintaining the daily payload work assignments; ensuring scheduled research activities are accomplished safely and on time, and managing and tracking available resources.

The OC leads resolution of NASA payload anomalies, and monitors troubleshooting of on board systems to identify possible impacts to payload operations. The position assesses change requests for impacts to the current science timeline, payload hardware assets and resources required for science such as crew time and electrical power. The OC also is responsible for evaluating requests by scientists for changes to the experiment timeline, and then implementing changes to the science operations plan on board.

Lead Increment Science Representative (LIS Rep)[edit]

The LIS Rep provides research priorities to the Payload Operations Center cadre for its planning and implementation of the science mission. Working with the Lead Increment Scientist, payload mission integration teams, remote research teams and other users, the LIS Rep tracks payload status and accomplishments, and manages research-related issues.

Payload Rack Officer (PRO)[edit]

The PRO is responsible for the configuration of ExPRESS payload racks in the International Space Station's Destiny laboratory, and for coordinating the configuration of systems resources to all NASA payload racks. When a new payload is installed, the PRO configures the rack interfaces to properly support the payload. The PRO also monitors the health and status of both the payload and the rack and if necessary, coordinates troubleshooting of the payload support structure and payload interfaces.

The PRO also is responsible for managing all ground commanding of U. S. payload systems and experiments on board the International Space Station. The PRO manages the command link, receives and sends command files to the mass storage device and configures the system to allow flight controllers in the Payload Operations Center and remote users to send commands to their equipment on the space station.

Data Management Coordinator (DMC)[edit]

The Data Management Coordinator is responsible for command, control, data handling, communications and tracking for science payloads on the space station. The DMC manages the integrated high data rate (Ku-band) communications link between the ground and the station. This position manages data system traffic, downlink video, assures ground data quality with NASA users, and assesses data system change requests. The DMC ensures that the data system is properly configured to support payload operations. The DMC also is responsible for managing video coverage of research activity on the station. The DMC monitors, configures and coordinates the use of the video system.

Payload Communications Manager (PAYCOM)[edit]

The PAYCOM, using the call sign, "Huntsville," is the prime communicator with the International Space Station astronaut crew on payload matters. The PAYCOM is responsible for enabling researchers around-the-world to talk directly with the crew about their experiments, and for managing payload conferences. Additionally, the PAYCOM reviews requests for changes to payload activity to assess their impact on the crew.

Shuttle Operations Coordinator (SOC)[edit]

The SOC is responsible for all International Space Station science payloads while they are on board the space shuttle for transport to the space station. This position tracks the payloads activities, and manages changes to the shuttle flight plan based upon the payload user requirements. The SOC also coordinates the transfer activities of the payload, payload packing for return and ensures that no science is lost during the transfer to and from the space station. The SOC serves as the payload operations interface between the Payload Operations Center and shuttle Mission Control Center during shuttle flights.

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