I noticed two very peculiar screens in the picture attached taken during STS-49, Endeavour's maiden flight. The screens are the round ones, and have text displayed. they are somewhat reminiscent of a CDC-6600 console, but are detached and much larger. They look a bit anachronistic, as they are next to a couple large workstation monitors and a laser printer (which seem stationed between positions 12 and 13).

Does anyone know what were those screens and what was being displayed there?

Mission control during STS-49


1 Answer 1


I asked my friend and former shuttle FDO Roger Balettie about this, he kindly gave me permission to quote him

..those are "Eidophor" displays - similar in nature to the much larger versions back in the Bat Cave behind the 10x10 and 10x20 front displays. They were used early on in the Shuttle Program for the FDOs to have clear overlays to put onto the projected ascent and entry displays put onto those two GIANT round monitors. I remember seeing several FDOs having grease pens and marking the overlays up to identify certain abort boundary call marks, or other important events on the trajectory. Then, as the mission events unfolded, they could easily see their real time data and these easier-to-modify overlays together.

During orbit phases, we just used them as regular displays - giving the FDO and TRAJ together 5 total displays to have up. Plus, as you can see, the top of the display case was excellent real-estate for storage. 😀

Roger's website about space, being an FDO, and the Trench is here: https://balettie.com/space/

  • $\begingroup$ I believe Roger is wrong on that one - eidophors were used on the large screens, but the round ones are Sanders Associates displays. They were large (for the time) 23" round CRTs coupled to a vector graphics generator reading vectors from RAM. Similar displays are seen at bitsavers.org/pdf/sandersAssociates/… on pages 7 and 18. Those systems had been in use at NASA since the Apollo days (although those two appear to be similar to their later Graphic7 system) $\endgroup$
    – rbanffy
    Mar 23 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ If you've got solid info, please post an answer @rbanffy $\endgroup$ Mar 24 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ It's a minor correction to the above answer, @Organic Marble. The big ones on the back are eidophors, but the two round ones are from Sanders. IIRC, they were also used in air-traffic control roles before being replaced by raster square CRTs (and, later, LCDs). $\endgroup$
    – rbanffy
    Apr 2 at 11:00

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