Understanding NASA’s Mission Control Map

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We see lots of video from mission control during ISS operations and at the front of the room there are big screens displaying things which are important to all the controllers. One of the most prominent displays is the map which shows the location of the ISS & other spacecraft as well as a bunch of cryptic, wavy lines.
So, let’s explain what all these mean and why they’re important to the control room staff when operating the most complicated machine ever flown.

Image Credits:

James Blair
Bill Ingalis

  1. Robert Kuczera

    Please do not ever again upload a video that is 7:39 long.
    7:38 would be ok, 5:39 and 3:36 also just to name a few.
    Thank you for your understanding and have a good day!

  2. Timothy Pirnat

    Good, informative content Scott. Thank you for explaining that.

  3. Ryan Czerwinski

    Best explanation of beta angles I’ve seen! It’s not something that gets much attention.

  4. Anthony Mendillo

    I have always wanted to learn about this. Thanks Scott!

  5. Miky Schuster

    I love that as you say at around 7:10 that the smart people do importand stuff, you can see two actualy watching a stream or news in the bottom right corner of their screen.

  6. Saint Tranny the Harry

    Nice. I feel just a little bit smarter knowing these things.
    Great video!

  7. zhenye li

    Looks like the crew are more like space slaves. (I want to be one tho)


    Looks like my dream gaming room…

  9. Twig 46

    omg thank you. ive always wondered about that.

  10. Cory Gunter-Smith

    Congratulations on 1M.

  11. Pintuxo

    The Mission Control room gets a lot busier during a launch, just like we all can testify next 18th January.

  12. Peter Gregory

    I’ve been to the Johnson Space Centre 3 times and it has never failed to impress me how small the mission control room actually is to how space I imagined they’d require.
    One thing I don’t believe they require is that theme park area they’ve plonked at the entrance. Beyond that however the tour around the research facilities and museum areas is truly fascinating. But maybe that’s just me getting older. Regards.

  13. Daniel DC88

    Thank you for the interesting info! It could just be me but the volume of the voice over seemed to change quite a bit in this video.

  14. Ben Drury

    Thanks for the breakdown.

  15. nathanddrews

    I’ve seen most of your videos, but this one is so succinct and perfectly describes advanced concepts to a layman like me. Thank you!

  16. Francesco Emiliano Tani

    thanks Scott, it’s always a pleasure listening to your explanations

  17. ben trimble

    Well, shoot– even *I* can read some of these maps. (points at different places) That’s the US, Canada, and Mexico; that’s England… 😀

  18. Benjamin Harvey

    How is the ISS location monitored throughout its orbit?

  19. Rob De Vos

    Could you explain the north Korean mission control? It’s just a vidieo of less than 1 minute 😂

  20. David Ramirez

    Hooray 1M subs great work Scott keeping people interested on science

  21. J L.

    Ha! Last video I asked how it comes that those orbit lines are in a wave shape. I now take comfort in thinking that Scott might have read that question and was inspired to do this video. Even though that’s probably not true ;)

  22. Pronto

    0:39 please can someone please hack the Roscosmos Mission Control and substitute pictures of Jeb, Bill and Valentina in that top left screen?

  23. Tiisiphone

    Thanks Scott, this is most helpful!

  24. stntylr101

    I got to visit Mission Control on my birthday back in September. really fascinating to watch the controls work.

  25. Andreas Wasko

    Very interesting!
    Many thanks for those explanations!
    Greets from germany! ^^

  26. David McGill

    I’d recommend you download Orbitron if you want to play with these maps some more.

  27. olivier adam

    Thank you, that was a crystal clear explanation

  28. Christopher Willis

    3:30 that is why we use flexbox!

  29. MennoTube

    Thanks so much for this. This is just what I needed!

  30. Inu Sama

    I never even thought about trying to understand everything on the big screen aside from: thats the earth and the wavy lines are the orbits.
    So thank you for broadening my horizon, again! :)

  31. Damien Drouart

    Everyone knows they play ksp on the small screen you never see. KSP is spacy enough looking to not get caught by mission director at quick glance.

  32. Paul Haynes

    What was on the big ‘screen’ back in the 60s and 70s, before we had all these big, flat screens?

  33. Paul Kerman

    7:12 is it just me or is someone in ground control watching Harry Potter in a teensy window on that one screen?…

  34. paveel12

    Scott congratulations on your 1,000,000 subs. i ve watching your videos for i don’t know how many years ago, so i love seing you reach this landmark.

  35. Umberto Pertschy

    Get well soon Scott <3

  36. Nicholas Rinaldi

    The something awful area cracked me up. :)

  37. Lawrence D’Oliveiro

    5:44 Some would argue that the most complex machine that humans have ever built is the Internet.

  38. M S

    Thanks Scott, again, never disappointed.. :)

  39. ForestCat_Peter

    DPC is the Daily Planning Conference

  40. Leo2245776

    I’ve always wondered why the orbits looked so wonky on those maps. Thanks Scott, keep up the quality!!

  41. Dalli Kalli

    Bruv do a 1 mil special

  42. Darrin Pearce

    Are those two controllers watching tele on her monitor at the end there ;)

  43. Grazden

    Thanks Scott, this was really interesting and cool.

  44. FabricioSTH

    It’s impressive how you can judge how old pictures are just examining the smartphones.

  45. Marc’s Fx

    Nice to finally understand some of those letters, cheers Scott 👍🏼😊

  46. Hinz Kunzinger

    Great insights there, thank you!
    What OS does Mission Control use?
    Some Linux Distro? ;)

  47. ShadowTheAge

    How many keyboards and phones are per person in NASA?

  48. rommelfcc

    And this is the machine that goes Bing! 😉😆
    Love the info, keep up the good work Scott ☺️

  49. Damian Reloaded

    So NASA runs on Windows XP ^_^

  50. Dark Knighte Apologeticz

    Yay, science. I liked this video. That was cool.

  51. Jan Negrey

    Waiting for comments from flat-earthers.

  52. steven smith

    Random comment just for the interaction for the channel :)

  53. BikeHelmet

    A heck of a lot of those taskbars are WinXP ones. Hope they’ve got a solid VPN!

  54. Márk Pozsonyi

    3:15 – what an old political map!
    West and East Germany
    one Sudan
    and the USSR

  55. TheMinigato

    Congrats on 1M!!! My couter was just at exactly 1.000.000 when I loaded the video!!!!

  56. Conker King

    It’s flat … Proof right there…….. ;)

  57. 77gravity

    Scott never disappoints, there is always more to learn, and he makes that easy.

  58. Montgomery Burns

    I am forever banned from being within 1000 feet of the “Smart People”.

  59. Kusthah

    1.000.000 subs right now! Congratulations from Argentina!

  60. Lawrence D’Oliveiro

    6:10 “Looking fine right now” … shows messages with 4 lines saying “Failed”, 1 saying “Error”, and the remaining 3 showing “Loss”.

  61. Doxie Lain

    Bonus points, it all runs on a version of linux!

  62. pentagramprime

    SAA: The Bermuda Triangle of Space Flight. Break out the tin foil hats!

  63. Alan cZar

    Wait wut, so this isn’t a map of our flat earF?

  64. Tuulos

    I’m just jealous of the guy with 6 screens.

  65. Aelund

    Something Awful Area… I’d almost forgotten you were a goon Scott :P

  66. MJ

    Great job! How about a video with brief explanations of each station in mission control? I toured mission control recently but they went through it really fast.

  67. CountryandIrishFan

    Rewatching “From the earth to the moon” right now on sky Atlantic 😀

  68. -Rocketkids4-

    Great video Congratulations on 1 million subscribers!

  69. Michael Labossiea

    Game time! Drink a beer everytime he says “it’s also important”

  70. Firetale

    Oh, when you started talking about the small screens, I hoped to get more information about what they are showing and indicating… ;-)

  71. chris15782

    SAA comment made me giggle so hard. Goon trap sprung! Love the videos Scott!

  72. Toolkit SeventyOne

    I wish you could interview Chris Hatfield.

  73. thenorup

    Be carefull to enter the SAA! The Goon Squads are hunting therre!

  74. Lawrence D’Oliveiro

    3:33 That window-frame colour keeps screaming “Windows XP” at me …

  75. Will Pearce

    Is it me or does it look like NASA is running Windows XP

  76. ZenZaBill

    7:10 They watching a Disney movie in a small window on one of the screens?

  77. Tiago Mallmann

    That Mjölnir on THOR Team just for safety. 6:55

  78. Alexander Batyr

    The stuff that everybody get to see is on the big screens…
    The real shape of Earth is on small screens and you’ll never be able to read this!
    Only The Chosen Smart People Know The Truth!

  79. Don Jones

    At 0:22 The person who folds their hands and prays when something starts to go wrong, the Flight Rector.

  80. The Rocinante

    Hi Scott! How far you’ve come from teaching me about Eve online! You’re the man, congrats on 1mil subs :D

  81. Armando Fadhel

    When you’re looking at a SpaceX webcast and they deploy either Dragon or Starlink or any satellite, if you use the vis-viva equation and input the actual velocity and altitude displayed on the telemetry you get a suborbital trajectory rather than an orbital one. Can you do a video about why this discrepancy? I’m assuming it has to do with the extra push from Earth’s rotation not being displayed in the velocity telemetry but I’d love an in-depth understanding.

  82. Jonathan Tucker

    Didn’t you see on the small screen, they’re watching a youtube video!

  83. sulijoo

    I watch Mission Control to see if anyone’s playing KSP.

  84. Melanie Boots

    It’d be funny if we caught someones screen viewing a Scott Manley tutorial video on how to navigate a spaceship.

  85. David Hubbell

    35 years of corporate piloting and having lived through every space event, i can now read a map I have seen my entire life. Thank you!

  86. M M

    “SAA: Something awefull area ” haha cought me offguard ;)

  87. denelson83

    “Something awful area”…
    Never heard it referred to that way before, but now that I have, I’d say that’s somewhat accurate.

  88. Blazed Gaming KR

    Scott, you are my absolute favorite content creator. My daughter and I can actually hold a conversation about rockets and orbital mechanics, because she watches you all the time. She’s 8. I don’t know anyone else who can explain the jist of rocket science well enough for a 6-8 year old can understand (she’s been watching for a while now.) I woke up one morning and she had Valentina Kerman walking around on Eve. She then proceeded to return from Eve. Something I can say, with slight embarrassment, that I haven’t been able to do yet. 🤷.
    So thank you, Scott Manley, and you fly safe as well. 🚀✴️

  89. Richard Barrett

    Captions are great: “Hello, it’s got manly here.”

  90. Lawrence D’Oliveiro

    0:37 The Russians also have something else: sponsorship placards.

  91. Ferrariman601

    We totally need a video on the South Atlantic Anomaly now.

  92. Anis Optera

    Capcom: “Those guys play monster hunter. The windows are just spreadsheets with rare drop tables.”

  93. Simply Space

    “Scott Manley 1M subscribers” is the best thing I’ve ever read.

  94. Silverlightnick

    As a ground station software developer I really liked this video 👍🏻

  95. Dabbing Kerbonaut

    Now we can analyse all the movie Mission Controls and see how realistic they are! Thanks Scott!

  96. SpetsnatzLegion 336

    T minus 5 seconds to crew sleep… 3… 2… 1… and we have confirmation of successful crew sleep, see you again in 8 hours

  97. Eoin O'Kelly

    hey, could you do a video about the terminology mission control uses, specifically for countdowns and in flight? stuff like how go-no-go polls are structured etc. as well as this, how it differs between NASA, SpaceX, ULA would also be interesting to hear

  98. JustSomeCanuck

    SAA: Here there be space dragons.

  99. Brian Streufert

    Would you do a video on the South Atlantic Anomaly???? I have never heard of this and it sounds fascinating!!

  100. Lithostheory

    From now on I’ll always refer to the South Atlantic Anomaly as the Something Awful Area.

Comments are closed.