Towards Holograms in Space

First steps for designing Mission Control Software UI for Satellite Constellations

Micah Tinklepaugh
8 min readJan 25


Photo by NASA

Disclaimer — I have never designed ground control software for satellites. But what young child doesn’t dream of working to get infrastructure in space? And how many adults forget to dream as they once did? So if you will recall in my last article I outlined how one might go about winning an award from NASA for designing really good software:

Fortunately, I have designed Geo-Spatial Analytics systems before and those do some pretty similar data tasks such as extracting it from a database, transforming it from one type of data to another, and loading that in artificial intelligence algorithms for analysis. The visualization is the icing on the cake and sometimes quite an important part.

As a user interface designer (UI), some things I’d like to know are as follows:

  1. What is Ground Control Software?
  2. Who is the tool helping and who is building it?
  3. Who has made some of these tools and what are some key considerations?
  4. What development resources could be used to build these tools?
  5. What are some unique examples of this out there in the wild?

1. What is Ground Control Software (GCS)?

According to Northern Arizona University, Ground Control Station (GCS) is a software application used to establish a connection to the vehicle. The software allows the user to adjust vehicle parameters and receive real time data during the vehicle’s flight.


According to the NASA ground data systems and mission operations link credited in the image captions: “In general, these software applications cover functions related to mission scheduling and tasking…



Micah Tinklepaugh

I design products for people and systems. I also like to swim, bike, and run.