When Artemis 1 takes off next year, there will be 90 people in the room on launch day. Two-thirds of them will be Jacobs engineers overseeing the launch sequence software they created.
The scope of the software engineering that Jacobs performs for the Artemis program is broad. Just as the physical systems of Pad 39B were redesigned and reconstructed over more than a decade for the Space Launch System rocket program, all of the software that allows ground and SLS systems to work together had to be designed by a team of more than 200 systems, software and hardware engineers, programmers and analysts. As with the physical assets, the software had to be developed, integrated and tested.
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The primary command and control system at KSC was the ultimate responsibility of John Ramsey, head of launch control systems and integrated product team leader for Jacobs at KSC.
“[Our scope] includes all the systems in the firing rooms, the typical console that you would expect someone to be sitting in front of, all of the servers, the application software itself, all the way out to the end of the wire at the launch pad. Our off-line processing facilities, including the programmable logic controllers and the communications infrastructure which we partner with others on, are our responsibility as well,” he says.
A former platoon leader in the U.S. Army and an engineer with extensive experience at Verizon and NASA, Ramsey says the most difficult part of leading the software development effort for Artemis was working in parallel with the physical infrastructure being built in the Vehicle Assembly Building, at Pad 39B and across NASA's other facilities where testing, fabrication and delivery take place.
“The mobile launcher or the cryogenic subsystems, the gas system, electrical—all of it,” he says. “We've had vehicles being engineered and developed in parallel. The software at Kennedy Space Center has to come together here.”
The Jacobs team has written roughly 5.5 million lines of code to prepare for Artemis 1. To test systems such as the avionics stack in the rocket or auxiliary power, they performed test flights and launch simulations to prepare for the planned February takeoff. All of its code and the systems it supports were stress-tested, finite-element-analyzed and ready to go in late October.