Michael Wyke / AP
Gene Kranz is perhaps the most famous flight director in the history of NASA. He led the actual land section of the first mission to bring men to the moon, Apollo 11, and led mission control to rescue the crew of Apollo 13 after an oxygen tank exploded on its way to the lunar surface.
Now 85-year-old Kranz has completed another venture: the reopening of mission control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The space in which Kranz conducted some of NASA's most historic missions announcing space exploration in the US was decommissioned in 1992. Since then it has been a station for guided tours of the space center, but fell into disrepair. Kranz has spent $ 5 million per annum to restore Mission Control in time for the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20th.
"I went to this room for the first time last Monday when it was full I literally cried," Kranz said in an interview with NPR. "The emotional upswing at that moment was unbelievable, I dropped to the floor and as we cut the tape for the last two days, I could believe it or not, I could hear people speaking in this room from 50 years ago." I could hear the controllers are talking. "
The room also evoked memories of a common goal for Kranz.
"This group of people who have come together in search of a cause, and basically the result was greater than the sum of the parts, created a chemistry," said Kranz.
Sandra Tetley, the Johnson Maintenance Center's historic conservation officer, worked with contractors to meticulously replicate the space, interview former air traffic controllers, and collect old photos. They searched websites like eBay for articles from the Apollo era – such as cups, ashtrays and a coffee pot to fill the room.
"We even found that it was original color and that it was not original color, so we could make sure the original color was preserved," Tetley said. "We stamped all ceiling tiles by hand so that all patterns match."
Wreath, played in 1995 by actor Ed Harris in the movie Apollo 13, said the meaning of space goes beyond historical objects and artifacts. "[The room] also has a meaning in relation to the American psyche: what America will dare will America do," he said.
Kranz said he wants his early space missions to challenge America's youth to study science, technology, and technology, and that the restored space provides inspiration for teachers and students.
"There's a lot of future out there, and what you have to do is go out and grab it, wrestle it to the ground, accept the challenges and then decide," Kranz said. You have the skills, you have the knowledge, you have the love, and you are able to move forward and make you a great life. "
These were lessons that Kranz learned from his life in mission control.