Former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz Restores Mission Control Kranz led the earliest missions to the moon, including Apollo 11 and Apollo 13, and says he wants the room to inspire American students to study science and technology.

Former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz Restores Mission Control In Houston

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NASA's Mission Control has been restored. This is the room in Houston, Texas, where government employees ran the Apollo 11 moon landing 50 years ago this summer. It's back in prime 1960s condition. NPR Shannon Van Sant reports.


GENE KRANZ: OK, all flight controllers, go-no-go for landing.

SHANNON VAN SANT, BYLINE: This is the sound of Mission Control on July 20, 1969.


KRANZ: Surging (ph). Go.


KRANZ: Capcom, we're go for landing.

VAN SANT: And that voice belongs to Gene Kranz, flight director for the landing portion of Apollo 11's historic trip to the moon. Mission Control, the room where Kranz directed his team of flight controllers, had since fallen into disrepair. So the now 85-year-old former fighter pilot has led a $5 million multiyear effort to renovate and restore it.

KRANZ: I walked into that room last Monday for the first time when it was fully operational. And it was dynamite. Basically, I just - I won't say literally wept, but it was - there was - the emotional surge at that moment was incredible.

VAN SANT: The Mission Control room brings back memories for Kranz of his colleagues and their shared purpose.

KRANZ: 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.

VAN SANT: NASA's historic preservation officer Sandra Tetley said she worked with contractors to restore every inch of the room.

SANDRA TETLEY: We even identified which was original paint and which was not original paint, and so we could make sure that the original paint was left. We handstamped all of the ceiling tiles so that the whole patterns would match.

VAN SANT: But Kranz says the Mission Control room's significance stretches beyond historical items and artifacts.

KRANZ: It also has a meaning related to the American psyche - that what America will dare, America will do.

VAN SANT: Kranz wants his early space missions to challenge America's youth to study science and technology. He says he wants the restored room to inspire teachers and students.

KRANZ: There is an awful lot of future out there. And what you got to do is you got to grab it, wrestle it to the ground, accept the challenges and then decide. You've got the skills. You've got the knowledge. You've got the love. And you're capable of moving forward and making a great life for yourself.

VAN SANT: Life lessons Kranz says he learned in Mission Control.

Shannon Van Sant, NPR News.

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