Read all the Times reports of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing . | After Gene Kranz retired in the 1990s, he began to make occasional VIP tours at Johnson Space Center at NASA.
There was the Apollo Mission Control Center, which Mr. Kranz had a few others seen at the highest peaks and the lowest levels of the moon race. As a flight director, he helped guide the complex human and technical operation that drives the triumph of the Apollo 1
] Mr. Kranz had to appear earlier before each tour to take over the place. He had to take the garbage left on the computer consoles that had once scattered people on the moon. Water bottles, cans.
"This place was not a representative of the historical control of the mission," Kranz said. It was also a technical mess. "Configuration of consoles is by no means the place where we were and what we did."
On Friday, Mr Krantz and Jim Bridence, the NASA Administrator, cut off a tape marking the official opening of the restored Apollo Mission Management Center. The project was three-year, $ 5 million, and every inch of the famous heart of the American lunar aspirations was repaired and refurbished. His re-opening came three weeks before the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's huge leap for humanity and helped to find Apollo's celebrations throughout the country.
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The mission control of Apollo was abandoned in 1992, with all operations being moved in an upgraded mission control center elsewhere in the building. The staff of the center, the friends, the family – and anyone who really had access to Building 30 – could come in, sit down, take a break for lunch and take a picture.
While they were there, they could take a button from the computer consoles. Or a switch or dial, something small – a personal memory of an ancient American achievement. Furniture fabrics and carpets under their feet grew. The room was dark; none of the equipment had power. Wires hung in places where rotating phones were sitting. The giant screens in front of the room were damaged and the room smelled of mold. "He knew it was not right – you just knew," says Sandra Tetley, a history officer at the Johnson Space Center. But that was not a priority. We are an organization that moves towards the future, so there is no budget to do such things. "
The project started serious six years ago. The anniversary was soaring, and it was the catalyst for fixing mission control and proper performance. "We wanted to achieve a high standard to restore it, and we were able to meet this 50th anniversary," Ms Tetley said.
The National Parks Office established the Apollo Mission Management Center as a national historical landmark in 1985. After deciding to rebuild the facility in 2013, Mr Krantz, Ms Tetley, Jim Thornton, the Recovery Project Manager, and others were blocked at every step. There were problems with funding and domestic grass warfare.
The Apollo Mission Management Center is in the middle of an operational building where life or death decisions are made for missions in flight. Judicial decisions related to space walks, polluting dirt and mechanical failure solutions leave little room for mistakes – or interruptions by tourists.
Eventually, however, the Houston Space Center, a non-profit educational complex and space museum, took the lead in the fund – stepping up efforts. In nearby the city of Webster, Texas, donated $ 3.5 million of the $ 5 million needed to complete the project. The Kickstarter campaign and independent donations completed the rest.
Like the Oval Office or the Hall for Independence Hall meetings, mission control is a very pronounced American room – so woven into the culture that says its name is to call it clearly in your mind as if you were there, even worked there. And the restoration is completed in a way that is faithful to its place in American historical imagination.
Four long rows of pale green consoles fill the room. Underneath there are white panels and a beige new carpet. The lights dance purposefully to the consoles, each playing accurate Apollo video broadcasts, as it would be seen during the moon landings, or showing grids of numbers and prehistoric computer code. On the four giant displays in the front of the room there are maps, matrices and astronaut positional stories.
The consoles can be seen in pictures from the Apollo era. Ashtrays and coffee cups, staples and stopwatches, pens and pencils, headphones and telephones with rotating dial. There are 3-inch mission control guides and pneumatic tube boxes. Binders and glasses and cigar boxes sit next to RC Cola boxes and Winston cigarette packs. The room is a museum piece, but it's still alive, as if the engineers went out for a while, but they would be back. Every item is authentic, thoroughly scrutinized by grainy pictures.
"The team was really trying to cope with what we brought out in this room today," says Jennifer Keyes, Project Manager.
Ceiling tiles matching the original were eventually recovered from a telephone booth in the lobby elsewhere in the Johnson Space Center. A saved wallpaper is found behind a fire extinguisher. All had to be carefully selected or made in the same way. Original paint was found for consoles. And through these consoles, the artifacts of the past.
"We've been tracking things on eBay, from donating people – whatever we've managed to raise. We hunted hunting through Johnson's space center to find things like garbage cans, chairs and folders, "said Keys.
The crews of Apollo's mission were known for their attention to the details. So each of them is an astronaut. The recovery team showed no less respect for the small details, and the effect was unusual.
You can see only the phantom engineers in white shirts and black links from the surveillance gallery who talk to the headphones very calmly about high-stakes orbital maneuvers, see them make notes and press these buttons. The stories that appear in your imagination, yet in front of your eyes.
Christopher Kraft, who invented flight operations for NASA when the agency was created, was credited with mission control design. Nothing like the space program existed, and there were no models for it. The air traffic control model can not work because the tower in this setting has visibility for everything in its auspices. The area of mission control, on the other hand, is abstract: a specific set of procedures at any one time and problems solved by mathematics and moxes.
The genius of his design is reflected in today's mission management center. who works for the International Space Station. The computers are smaller, the monitors are bigger, the plates are wider and the office chairs are nicer.
But the design of the room is almost identical. Over giant screens appear five giant screens with mission status update and orbit submission. And although the time of the Apollo generation is quickly over, the things used by mission controllers are still the same.
Everything is clearly visible from the gallery. Desktops are lined with coffee and Coca-Cola cups, pens and documents, folders, headphones and glasses. The room is crowded and relaxed, and the stakes are still high. As NASA collects an American return to the Moon over the next decade, the mission of Artemis will still rise.
Guided excursions to the public will begin on July 1st. Earlier this week, Mr. Kranz was the first time in the new missionary reconditioned mission. He approved "It was dazzling," he said. – You can not believe it. Suddenly you were 50 years younger and want to work there. I wanted to go back to this room. "