GREENBELT, Md. (WUSA) -- NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has a crucial role in the final shuttle launch into orbit.
Jim Bangerter is the center's network director. His team will be overseeing all communication of Shuttle Atlantis, all the way from Greenbelt.
Bangerter says, "We provide sole communication with astronauts on board. Without us, they would not be able to launch."
In fact, Goddard is the lifeline and has made it possible for all communication, data and astronauts speaking with the Johnson Space Center from the programs start in 1981.
Goddard is also hitching a ride on Atlantis. Scientists are putting its Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) payload, essentially a big hardware box the size of a washing machine, on the shuttle. It will dock on the International Space Station for experiments on servicing satellites.
Christy Hansen says, "I will have my team in this control room making sure everything is working properly. 55 minutes into the flights I will be pinging my team saying, did the heater go on?"
Hansen says, "We are so focused on the mission but at night I think, I can't believe it's the final space shuttle mission. It's emotional. This is a magical piece of hardware we are losing but we are going to move on."
Bangerter says, "It's going to be sad when it all ends."
All eyes are now on the 135th and last shuttle launch into space with Goddard and its special role.
Written by Surae Chinn
9NEWS NOW & wusa9.com