Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Historic NASA flight director Christopher Columbus Kraft, Jr. dies at age 95

Kraft then the Johnson Space Center director shows NASA's mission control to President Ronald Reagan in 1981.     
                    NASA            
      hide capt Kraft then the Johnson Space Center director shows NASA's mission control to President Ronald Reagan in 1981. NASA hide capt
Sandra Phillips | 24 July, 2019, 17:15

A legendary figure at the Johnson Space Center, Christopher created the concept of NASA's Mission Control and developed its organization, operational procedures and culture - making it a critical element of the success of human spaceflight programmes, the USA space agency said in a statement late on Monday.

"America has truly lost a national treasure with the passing of one of NASA's earliest pioneers - flight director Chris Kraft", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

Chris Kraft, NASA's first flight director and a huge driving force behind the mission that eventually sent astronauts to the Moon, died just days after watching the agency he helped build celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing and moonwalk.

Kraft made key decisions on launches as the US was learning how to put a man into space.

He was a quick study (he finished his aeronautical engineering degree at Virginia Tech in two years). His outstanding leadership and management led to his eventual selection as the head of the Manned Spacecraft Center.

Kraft joined the NASA Space Task Group in November 1958 as NASA's first flight director and worked on some of the most iconic moments in space history, including humans orbiting Earth for the first time. Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong once called Kraft "the man who was the "Control" in Mission Control". Chris Kraft was the agency's first flight director and managed all of the Mercury missions, as well some of the Gemini flights.

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Dr. and Mrs. Kraft was married to the former Betty Anne Turnbull of Hampton, Virginia, whom he met in High School.

"Chris Kraft had pioneered Mission Control and fought the battles in Mercury and Gemini, serving as the role model of the flight director". Among the historic flights during this period were the first sub-orbital and orbital flights with Project Mercury as well as the first space walk and first rendezvous with Project Gemini.

Kraft would often recall the exhilaration and nervousness during NASA missions, including Shepard's suborbital journey.

Kraft's legacy will live on, and the Mission Control Center that has carried his name since 2011 is a reflection of how important he was to NASA as well as the science of spaceflight as a whole. They have a son and a daughter, Gordon and Kristi-Anne.

"Saddened by this world's loss of Chris Kraft". The idea of Mission Control is an indelible part of the agency, and Kraft is the genesis of Mission Control as we know it. He retired from NASA in 1982 yet kept on work as a consultant.

As the missions grew in complexity, so did the amount of data and the controllers and support engineers needed in the Mission Control Center. He was a great leader, a great American and an Explorer for the ages. He said, "We didn't do the follow-on and we could have and we should have".

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