Restored Mission Control comes alive 50 years after Apollo
Updated : 2019-08-09 12:52:57
Gone is the haze of cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke. Gone are the coffee, soda and pizza stains. With only a few exceptions, NASA's Apollo-era Mission Control has been restored to the way it looked 50 years ago when two men landed on the moon. It gets the stamp of approval from retired flight director Gene Kranz, a man for whom failure — or even a minor oversight — is never an option. Seated at the console where he ruled over Apollo 11, Apollo 13 and so many other astronaut missions, Kranz pointed out that a phone was missing behind him. And he said the air vents used to be black from all the smoke, not sparkly clean like they are now. Those couple of details aside, Kranz could close, then open his eyes, and transport himself back to July 20, 1969, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's momentous moon landing. "When I sit down here and I'm in the chair at the console ... I hear these words, 'Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed,'" Kranz said during a sneak preview at NASA's Johnson Space Center. "It's just nice to see the thing come alive again," said Kranz, who titled his autobiography, "Failure is Not an Option." Friday's grand opening — just three weeks shy of the 50th anniversary of humanity's first otherworldly footsteps — culminates years of work and millions in donations. It opens to the public Monday. Meticulously recreated down to the tan carpeting, gray-green wallpaper, white ceiling panels, woven-cushioned seats, amber glass ashtrays and retro coffee cups, Project Apollo's Mission Operations Control Room never looked — or smelled — so good. The goal was "to capture the look and feel of July of '69," said NASA's restoration project manager Jim Thornton.