The Old Headset

DATE: 3-18-09
SUBJECT: STS-119 and ISS-15A flight controllers on console during SSRMS Grapple & Unberth S6 Truss, SSRMS Handoff of S6 Truss to SRMS.
Flight Controller: Paul Dye

Looking at these old pictures, I can’t help but fondly remember my old Apollo-era headset. When I got to MCC in 1980, everyone was wearing the latest StarSet from Plantronics – it was the latest thing, smooth and shaped to fit over your ear. I was issued one, along with all the new folks. Unfortunately, it was never comfortable for me – pressed between my glasses and my skull to keep it on my ear, I couldn’t wear it for a full shift. They made a clip to hang it on your glasses, but that never really stayed in place for me. It was a kluge. Then someone suggested I try the old Plantronics headset cube that was around in the Apollo days. Much smaller than the Starset, it had essentially the same guts – and worked great on my glasses.

Years rolled by, and occasionally, I had to have a cord fixed, or a plug changed, but the comm techs always seemed to be able to keep it working – until someone decided that the headset techs weren’t needed, and if someone had a headset problem, they just gave them a new one – a clerk was cheaper than a tech I guess. Before that happened, I was looking for a new long cord for my headset, and the tech, seeing the writing on the wall, opened a drawer with broken Apollo era sets, and shoveled a bunch of parts into my hands, saying “the comm system doesn’t care what’s plugged in to it, but you’ll have to keep it going yourself!”

And for the next many years, I was able to keep that great headset going. I probably replaced the body, the circuit board, the voice tube, the ear piece, the switchbox, and all the cords at least once. Hmmm….kind of hard to say if there was anything original still in the unit! Eventually about the time the Shuttle era ended, I ran out of spares, and had to go with whatever was standard issue of the day – another Starset. I did what many people had done, rigging up an old headband as a neck ring, mounting the set to the clip on that, and wearing it like a collar, with a long piece of surgical rubber tubing going to my ear. I never liked that as much as my old Apollo set, but it worked until I retired.

Life in MCC!


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