NASA’s Apollo Mission control room set to be restored

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The historic Apollo Mission Control Center  in Houston is set to be completely restored in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, it has been revealed.

The painstaking restoration will recreate the room as it was during the moon landing on July 20, 1969.

Even the ashtrays, coffee cups and paperwork on the desks will be put back in place.

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Flight controllers celebrate the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission on July 24, 1969, at NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston. The historic Apollo Mission Control Center in Houston is set to be completely restored in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, it has been revealed.

Flight controllers celebrate the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission on July 24, 1969, at NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston. The historic Apollo Mission Control Center in Houston is set to be completely restored in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, it has been revealed.

THE MOMENT THAT CHANGED MANKIND 

At 4:18 p.m. EDT on July 20, 1969, the lunar module lands with only 30 seconds of fuel remaining.

Neil Armstrong radios, ‘Houston, Tranquility Base here. 

‘The Eagle has landed.’ 

Mission control erupts in celebration.

As the tension breaks, Charlie Duke, then sitting at the CapCom console, tells the crew:

‘Roger, Tranquility. 

‘We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue—we’re breathing again. 

‘Thanks a lot.’ 

Initial work and assessments are underway and restoration is scheduled to begin this December, it was announced today.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Space Center Houston and the Apollo Flight Operations Association (AFOA) are working together on the project. 

Earlier this year Space Center Houston launched a $5 million Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to help support a major restoration of the room.

The restoration will include the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR), Visitor Viewing Room, Simulation Control Room, and the Summary Display Projection Room (‘bat cave’), the areas that make up the Apollo MCC – all located in the Christopher C. Kraft Mission Control Center (MCC) at Johnson. 

The MCC is where NASA’s flight control team planned, trained and executed Gemini, Apollo, Apollo/Soyuz, Skylab and Space Shuttle missions until 1992 including the momentous Apollo 11 and 13 missions.

In 1985, the MCC was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. 

Throughout the years, some work was done to partially restore the Apollo MCC to its Apollo-era configuration, but it was not fully restored and continued to deteriorate.

The flight control consoles are original and will be fully refurbished. 

The modules in the consoles will also be reconfigured to harken back to Apollo. 

Wallpaper and carpet samples are being evaluated against recently identified originals and will be recreated for the room. 

The Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) in the Mission Control Center (MCC), Building 30, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), at the conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. The television monitor shows President Richard M. Nixon greeting the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet in the Pacific recovery area. Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. are inside the Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF).

The Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) in the Mission Control Center (MCC), Building 30, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), at the conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. The television monitor shows President Richard M. Nixon greeting the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet in the Pacific recovery area. Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. are inside the Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF).

The Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) in the Mission Control Center (MCC), Building 30, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), at the conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. The television monitor shows President Richard M. Nixon greeting the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet in the Pacific recovery area. Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. are inside the Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF).

WHY IS THE GOVERNMENT NOT PAYING?

Space Center Houston is not funded by the U.S. Government.

It is a project of the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, the nonprofit science center that serves as the Official Visitor Center of JSC.

It relies on private contributions and ticket revenue to fund its operations.

However, the restoration of the National Historic Landmark will be coordinated by NASA Johnson Space Center.

While NASA cannot accept public donations that have a targeted purpose, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has the flexibility to accept public donations and designate the funds for specific historic preservation projects.  

Space Center Houston is sending the funds to the ACHP so they can be earmarked specifically for the Apollo MCC restoration.

 

Johnson Space Center plans to acquire and reproduce the same furnishings that were in the room during that time period: items such as ashtrays, trash cans, and book cases.

Space Center Houston, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation, spearheaded the effort to raise funds for the project.

‘The restoration of this National Historic Landmark will create a space for the Apollo generation to remember an incredible time in history and keep that inspiration alive for the next generation,’ said NASA.  

‘In July 2019, visitors will be able to experience the drama of the Apollo moon landing from the Visitor Viewing Room, learning firsthand how the accomplishments of an earlier generation catapulted the future of space exploration.’ 

$3.5 million of the money needed was raised through a generous lead gift from the City of Webster.

Space Center Houston has turned to Kickstarter to raise an additional $250,000, and more than doubled the initial goal of $250,000 and rocketed past the Webster Challenge matching funds to more than $500,000.

 The restoration of the room, also called the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR), will feature the authentic consoles used to monitor nine Gemini and all Apollo flights.   

Retired Historic Mission Control operations team members are working with Space Center Houston to secure the funds needed to restore the site and create a world-class visitor experience that will inspire future generations through this amazing story of technological and human achievement. 

This photograph of the Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center at the Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center), Houston, was taken on April 13, 1970, during the fourth television transmission from Apollo 13, NASA's third crewed mission to the moon, launched on April 11, 1970. Now, the room is set to be restored.

This photograph of the Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center at the Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center), Houston, was taken on April 13, 1970, during the fourth television transmission from Apollo 13, NASA's third crewed mission to the moon, launched on April 11, 1970. Now, the room is set to be restored.

This photograph of the Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center at the Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center), Houston, was taken on April 13, 1970, during the fourth television transmission from Apollo 13, NASA’s third crewed mission to the moon, launched on April 11, 1970. Now, the room is set to be restored.

They include the flight of Apollo 11 that first landed men on the moon, the Apollo 13 mission that famously experienced an in-flight emergency and 40 other space missions.

This important site was named in 1985 to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its historical significance and worthiness of preservation. 

The restoration of the National Historic Landmark will be coordinated by NASA Johnson Space Center with funds raised by the nonprofit Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, which owns and operates Space Center Houston, the official JSC visitor center.

The red telephone which currently adorns the Department of Defense console.

The red telephone which currently adorns the Department of Defense console.

The red telephone which currently adorns the Department of Defense console, and the PAO console as it exists today, with a portable speaker unit perched on the edge

A close-up of Flight Director Gene Kranz's console during Apollo 13. The green event indicator panel just above and left of center is displaying the indicated status of the other MOCR consoles.

A close-up of Flight Director Gene Kranz's console during Apollo 13. The green event indicator panel just above and left of center is displaying the indicated status of the other MOCR consoles.

A close-up of Flight Director Gene Kranz’s console during Apollo 13. The green event indicator panel just above and left of center is displaying the indicated status of the other MOCR consoles.

Retired Historic Mission Control operations team members are working with Space Center Houston to secure the funds needed to restore the site and create a world-class visitor experience that will inspire future generations through this amazing story of technological and human achievement. 

They include the flight of Apollo 11 that first landed men on the moon, the Apollo 13 mission that famously experienced an in-flight emergency and 40 other space missions.

This important site was named in 1985 to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its historical significance and worthiness of preservation. 

The restoration of the National Historic Landmark will be coordinated by NASA Johnson Space Center with funds raised by the nonprofit Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, which owns and operates Space Center Houston, the official JSC visitor center.

Enlarge / Eidophor projections of the Apollo 11 lunar module descent stage trajectory during the first manned lunar landing. The Eidophor video projectors showed a very sharp image for the time

Enlarge / Eidophor projections of the Apollo 11 lunar module descent stage trajectory during the first manned lunar landing. The Eidophor video projectors showed a very sharp image for the time

Enlarge / Eidophor projections of the Apollo 11 lunar module descent stage trajectory during the first manned lunar landing. The Eidophor video projectors showed a very sharp image for the time

The room was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985 and retired seven years later.

In the room that had its glory days during the decades of Gemini and Apollo and the shuttle programs, many of the carpet squares are stained and taped together, The Houston Chronicle reported.

Behind the glass in the visitor area — where dignitaries and media observed mission control at work — the seats are worn. 

Ash-tray covers have been pried loose and pieces of upholstery cut away for souvenirs.

THE HOUSTON ROOM THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

Located on the third floor of Building 30 on the JSC campus, five distinct, interrelated areas make up Historic Mission Control. 

The Historic Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR2) includes the consoles used by flight controllers and large group display screens. 

Behind the screens is the summary display projection room, known as the ‘bat cave.’ 

Adjacent to MOCR2 are two support rooms: the Simulation Control Room (Sim Room) and the Recovery Control Room, which served to coordinate support following splashdown. 

Overall view of the Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center, Building 30, during the Apollo 9 Earth-orbital mission. The Apollo Mission Control Center is located in Building 30 at Johnson Space Center. When this photograph was taken a live television transmission was being received from Apollo 9 as it orbited Earth.

Overall view of the Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center, Building 30, during the Apollo 9 Earth-orbital mission. The Apollo Mission Control Center is located in Building 30 at Johnson Space Center. When this photograph was taken a live television transmission was being received from Apollo 9 as it orbited Earth.

Overall view of the Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center, Building 30, during the Apollo 9 Earth-orbital mission. The Apollo Mission Control Center is located in Building 30 at Johnson Space Center. When this photograph was taken a live television transmission was being received from Apollo 9 as it orbited Earth.

A wall with large windows separates MOCR2 from the Visitors Viewing Area, a dedicated space where family members and VIP guests were able to observe mission controllers without disrupting them.

The restoration project will focus on all five areas of Historic Mission Control, with the goal of accurately portraying how the area looked the moment the moon landing took place on July 20, 1969. 

Even more specifically, that look will portray the exact moment that the team of controllers, after achieving the impossible, put out their celebratory cigars and headed home for a much-needed night’s sleep.

The project will restore each of the consoles to the Apollo era, specifically to mimic their Apollo 15 operational configuration.

Console arrays (such as panels, switches, indicators and monitors) also will be configured to their Apollo 15 locations, which represents the apex of technological achievement of the Apollo missions. 

Consoles will be shipped to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas, where experts in the SpaceWorks division will restore and reanimate each console. 

What's inside: The consoles and dispalys in the room, and what they all did

What's inside: The consoles and dispalys in the room, and what they all did

What’s inside: The consoles and dispalys in the room, and what they all did

SpaceWorks has restored numerous flown space artifacts around the globe, including artifacts currently in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

They will install appropriate buttons and sequences and light the monochromatic displays on the CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors.

The reanimation of the consoles is a key component of bringing MOCR2 ‘back to life’ for future visitors.

Other important details include restoring and replacing the historic furnishings specific to the Apollo era. 

The project will restore each of the consoles to the Apollo era, specifically to mimic their Apollo 15 operational configuration.

The project will restore each of the consoles to the Apollo era, specifically to mimic their Apollo 15 operational configuration.

The project will restore each of the consoles to the Apollo era, specifically to mimic their Apollo 15 operational configuration.

Extensive research, including interviews with Apollo flight controllers in the MOCR2, will confirm the activities that took place at each console and discover what types of personal items would be found on each console. 

We will replicate everything such as ash trays, binders, pencils, headsets and coffee cups.

 

 

Gene Kranz, a flight director during NASA’s Gemini and Apollo missions who was portrayed by Ed Harris in the film ‘Apollo 13,’ told a group of preservationists touring the room last year, ‘This is a place of history.’

‘But what I see is a tired Mission Control, worn of its heart and soul. It’s time to start the battle for its restoration,’ he said.

Deke Slayton (in black shirt, left of center) director of flight crew operations, and Chester M. Lee shake hands in Mission Control, while Rocco Petrone watches Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell on the screen.

Deke Slayton (in black shirt, left of center) director of flight crew operations, and Chester M. Lee shake hands in Mission Control, while Rocco Petrone watches Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell on the screen.

Deke Slayton (in black shirt, left of center) director of flight crew operations, and Chester M. Lee shake hands in Mission Control, while Rocco Petrone watches Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell on the screen.

Like others from NASA, Kranz usually refers to the room by its acronym, MOCR2 — pronounced ‘Mo-ker Two.’

The most recent proposal to restore the room, released last year, would cost about $3 million and require about 18 months of work. 

That would restore the room to the way it was for Apollo missions 11 through 17 — right down to the headsets, pencil holders and amber glass ash trays. 

The result would make MOCR2 — already a popular attraction — the crown jewel of Space Center Houston, the Johnson Space Center’s visitor center. 

‘We are certainly excited about the whole restoration project,’ said Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa. 

‘And we’re also committed to doing it in time for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.’

Apollo 11 mission officials relax in the Launch Control Center following the successful Apollo 11 liftoff on July 16, 1969. From left to right are: Charles W. Mathews, Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight; Dr. Wernher von Braun, Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center; George Mueller, Associate Administrator for the Office of Manned Space Flight; Lt. Gen. Samuel C. Phillips, Director of the Apollo Program.

Apollo 11 mission officials relax in the Launch Control Center following the successful Apollo 11 liftoff on July 16, 1969. From left to right are: Charles W. Mathews, Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight; Dr. Wernher von Braun, Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center; George Mueller, Associate Administrator for the Office of Manned Space Flight; Lt. Gen. Samuel C. Phillips, Director of the Apollo Program.

Apollo 11 mission officials relax in the Launch Control Center following the successful Apollo 11 liftoff on July 16, 1969. From left to right are: Charles W. Mathews, Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight; Dr. Wernher von Braun, Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center; George Mueller, Associate Administrator for the Office of Manned Space Flight; Lt. Gen. Samuel C. Phillips, Director of the Apollo Program.

She also notes though that they ‘have to make sure we concentrate on the current work and the future as well.’ 

MOCR2 is just one room in a building where NASA still does classified work. 

The Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center still manages space flights from there.

Because it’s a historic landmark, the National Park Service and the Texas State Historical Association are both interested parties in the room’s restoration.

However, it remains the property of Johnson Space Center.

The National Historic Preservation Act requires a consultation meeting to advance the project, but it hasn’t taken place. 

Tom Keohan of the Park Service said his organization responded to an invitation for that consultation in February, but since then hasn’t heard from NASA.

‘ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN’ – THE APOLLO 11 MISSION 

Apollo 11 landed on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.

‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, ‘said Neil Armstrong as he landed on the surface of the moon 45 years ago and left the first footprint in the new age of space travel.

The Apollo 11 capsule sits in the restoration hanger at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, ahead of a planned four-city tour. Conservators are giving the capsule a full checkup - examining and documenting its condition before it goes on tour.

The Apollo 11 capsule sits in the restoration hanger at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, ahead of a planned four-city tour. Conservators are giving the capsule a full checkup - examining and documenting its condition before it goes on tour.

The Apollo 11 capsule sits in the restoration hanger at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, ahead of a planned four-city tour. Conservators are giving the capsule a full checkup – examining and documenting its condition before it goes on tour.

The spacecraft’s two parts consisted of the command module called the Columbia manned by Collins and the Eagle manned by Armstrong and Aldrin.

‘The Eagle has landed,’ Armstrong famously said as the Eagle safely arrived at a moon basin called The Sea of Tranquility with only 40 seconds of fuel left to burn.

After Armstrong set foot on our moon, Buzz Aldrin followed behind him and the two men read from a plaque that said, ‘Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.’ 

Collins stayed on the Columbia and orbited the moon, though he was no less a part of the historic mission.

Watched by over 600 million people around the world, Apollo 11 became the first spacecraft with human passengers to land on the moon.

CNN reports that Neil Armstrong acted as the commander, Buzz Aldrin was the lunar module pilot and Michael Collins acted as the command module pilot.

The crew traveled 240,000 miles from Earth to the moon in just 76 hours.

Networks like ABC, CBS, and NBC spent somewhere between $11 and $12 million on coverage from Apollo 11 and covered the mission from Sunday morning to Monday evening.

Networks televised a two-minute call between President Nixon who spoke to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin by radio from the Oval Office of the white house in what some call ‘the most historic phone call ever made.’ 

 





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