Gene Kranz is perhaps the most famous airline director in NASA's history. He managed the actual landing part of the first mission to put men on the moon, Apollo 11, and brought the Mission Control to rescue the Apollo 13 crew after the oxygen tank exploded along the way to the Moon's surface.
Now 85-year-old Kranz has completed another venture: reopening mission control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The room in which Kranz directed some of NASA's oldest missions, revealing the space exploration in the US, was made available in 1992. From then on it has stopped attending the tour of the space center, but it is neglected. Kranz has led many years of $ 5 million effort to restore mission control in time for the 50th anniversary of the first landing on July 20th.
"Last Monday I first entered the room when it was fully operational and it was a dynamite. I literally cried," Kranz said in an interview with NPR. "The emotional wave at that moment was unbelievable." I dropped to the floor, and when we did the tape cutting for the last two days, believe it or not, I could hear the people speaking in that room 50 years ago.
The room also brought memories to Kranz about a common sense of purpose.
"This group of people is united in search of the cause, and the result was greater than the sum of the parts. There was a chemistry that came into being," said Kranz.
Sandra Tetley, an officer to preserve the history of the Johnson Space Center, worked with the performers to carefully reconstruct the room, talk to former flight controllers, and collect old photographs. Websites like eBay have been cleaned to find items from Apollos – like cups, ashtrays and coffee pots to fill the room.
"We even identified the original color, which was not the original color, to make sure the original color remained," said Tetley. "We've tagged all the ceiling panels manually so that the whole pattern matches."
Kranz, played by actor Ed Harris in Apollo 13 movie from 1995, said that the meaning of the room extends beyond the historical artifacts and artifacts. "[The room] it also has the meaning of American psyche, what America will dare, America will do, "he said.
Kranz said he wanted his early space mission to challenge American youth to study science, engineering and technology, and that the renovated room inspires teachers and students.
"There is a terrible lot of future there, and what you have to do is go out and grab her, fight on the ground, accept challenges, and then decide," said Kranz. "You have the skills, you have the knowledge, you have love, and you are able to prosper and make a great life for yourself."
These are life lessons that Kranz says he learned in the Mission's Control.