Gene Kranz may be the most famous flight director in NASA’s history. He directed the actual landing portion of the first mission to put men on the moon, Apollo 11, and led Mission Control in saving the crew of Apollo 13 after an oxygen tank exploded on the way to the lunar surface. Now Kranz, 85, has completed another undertaking: the reopening of Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. From a report: The room where Kranz directed some of NASA’s most historic missions, heralding U.S. exploration of space, was decommissioned in 1992. Since then, it had become a stop on guided tours of the space center but had fallen into disrepair. Kranz led a $5 million multiyear effort to restore Mission Control in time for the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20.
“I walked into that room last Monday for the first time when it was fully operational, and it was dynamite. I literally wept,” Kranz said in an interview with NPR. “The emotional surge at that moment was incredible. I walked down on the floor, and when we did the ribbon-cutting the last two days, believe it or not, I could hear the people talking in that room from 50 years ago. I could hear the controllers talking.” The room also brought back memories for Kranz of a shared sense of purpose. “That group of people united in pursuit of a cause, and basically the result was greater than the sum of the parts. There was a chemistry that was formed,” Kranz said. “[The room] also has a meaning related to the American psyche, that what America will dare, America will do,” Kranz said.