First flight director for NASA Chris Kraft dies at 95

WASHINGTON, JULY 23 : Chris Kraft, the creator and longtime leader of NASA’s Mission Control has died at the age of 95 on Monday in Houston.

Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr. never flew in space, but “held the success or failure of American human spaceflight in his hands,” Neil Armstrong, the first man-on-the-moon.

Kraft founded Mission Control and created the job of flight director — later comparing it to an orchestra conductor — and established how flights would be run as the space race between the U.S. and Soviets heated up.
The legendary engineer served as flight director for all of the one-man Mercury flights and seven of the two-man Gemini flights, helped design the Apollo missions that took 12 Americans to the moon from 1969 to 1972 and later served as director of the Johnson Space Center until 1982, overseeing the beginning of the era of the space shuttle.

Armstrong once called him “the man who was the ‘Control’ in Mission Control.”

“From the moment the mission starts until the moment the crew is safe on board a recovery ship, I’m in charge,” Kraft wrote in his 2002 book “Flight: My Life in Mission Control.”

(Agencies)

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