This case takes place in the mythical Jupiter 2 Launch Room in Kourou, French Guiana, where we watched launches of Ariane, Soyuz and Vega on our televisions. The computer equipment, hardware and software, was installed there almost 20 years ago in 1995. Everything must be updated due to obsolescence and valuation of the brand. It is in this context that we were ask to assist in Project Management.
Problem to solve
Workers have developed their operating practices around the existing equipment and many tasks are now carried out in paper/pencil. The Jupiter 2 Launch Room gets media exposure and it reflects the image of CNES. There is therefore a strong desire to implement touchscreen technology and eliminate the use of paper completely. The use of touchscreen tiles is very different from using a computer, so how do we ensure that the implementation of touchscreens is a valid decision? What will be the impact on the business? How will we ensure the reliability of the system? What should we keep form the current system, what can we improve?
How we did it
We interviewed operators in each of the positions in the Control Room – 19 people in all – novices as well as experts there from the beginning. They described, explained, recounted what life in the Jupiter 2 Launch Room was like 5 to 10 hours before a launch. We dissected the user interfaces and manual activities and discussed ideas for the future system with those who will use it tomorrow.
Operators use a diary to note events throughout the launch process. This logbook will be discontinued. Operators appreciate the paper/pencil because “it’s fast, you grab the pen and record the information; we do not waste time and there is nothing lost.” The challenge is to prevent this from becoming a tedious manual activity once computerized (eg open a folder, open a file, click the writing area, type the information from the keyboard, ENTER). If this happens, operators will continue to use the paper/pencil and there will be design failure. We therefore recommended an application called “Logbook” to be used as easily “as picking up a pen and taking notes on what’s happening”, in a maximum of 2 movements.
3D view of the implementation of touchscreens for one desk in Jupiter 2 Launch Room (Graphic design by Christophe Ogier)
Space Design / User interface Design (UI) / User Research