During the last year efforts at the ASC have focused on software development, the conduct of the AXAF Ground Calibration, and the development and staffing of the AXAF Operations Control Center. It's exciting to now be less than a year from launch and the pace of the project has picked up accordingly.
With the completion of the second and final Critical Design Review in August last year, our Data Systems team went into full development mode with work proceeding on three releases in parallel. The Release 1 software used for AXAF Ground Calibration was installed, updated and supported throughout the calibration running from November '96 to May '97. The Data System received all data from the X-ray Calibration Facility. Calibration data from HRC, ACIS, and other test equipment were archived, decommutated and processed using automated pipelines.
Release 2 software was completed in February '97 and provides the ASC interface with the Operations Control Center (OCC). This software allows the submission of Observation Requests, performs science scheduling and receives and processes the telemetry from AXAF. The software has been successfully used in integrated tests with the other ground system elements throughout this year.
Release 3 software includes the proposal preparation and submission tools which were released early to the GTOs for their proposal submission and to provide feedback before being released to users with the NRA in October. Tools to support the Peer Review next April are on track for delivery in February. The Release 4 development is on track and includes software to support the SI integration and space craft integration (including Aspect Camera), as well as the portable software tools for users to be released next Summer. It has certainly been a very busy time with so much development in parallel, however the team has demonstrated a significant number of the important data system functions needed during flight and are moving towards launch with an excellent base.
The Ground Calibration activities dominated life for 5 months over the Winter and were very successful. Staff from many areas of the AXAF program supported testing in Huntsville on a 24 hour 7 day per week basis and performed the calibration of the flight mirror (HRMA), gratings (HETG, LETG) and both focal plane instruments (HRC and ACIS) on schedule. In addition to the exciting calibration results and the rather daunting detailed analysis task ahead, many important operational results came from the calibration as well. These include the development of web-based processing tools and operations procedures that will be the basis for our in-orbit operations approach, testing of our archive design and query functions, and the key use of performance predictions in the planning and interpretation of calibration data.
The other significant area of activity during the last year has been the development and staffing of the AXAF OCC. Following the decision by NASA to relocate the OCC in Cambridge and the selection of the site in Draper Laboratories near MIT, work proceeded quickly with the building modifications. The staff worked closely with contractors to install and configure the AXAF Ground System data systems and associated software. Following occupancy in December '96 the Flight Operations Team and OCC team staffed up quickly and we are now proceeding towards the first AXAF end-to-end test with work focused on the development of the display screens, scripts and other data to be used to operate the spacecraft, and on training and development of flight procedures.
The next year will lead us to launch and the completion of the development phase of the project. We look forward to the response from the first NRA and the scheduling of the first user science observations.