HOUSTON, Tx. (AP) - It’s a snapshot of American achievement, one that deserves to be preserved. Houston’s Mission Control is being restored to its former glory.
As the world held its collective breath 50 years ago, a lunar module with computing power less than today’s smartphones landed two men on the moon.
But what really guided the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969 were the hundreds of dedicated NASA employees in Houston’s Mission Control.
“I look at it as a leadership laboratory where a bunch of young people come in and its pass fail. Are they going to become leaders, yes or no?” said Gene Kranz, Apollo 11 flight director.
“It was now upon my team and the crew. Nobody else in the world existed. Not even all the bosses in the back row or the people in their living rooms,” Kranz continued.
Kranz made sure that astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were guided every step of the way.
"I hear these words, 'Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.' And the room was almost strange at that time because the viewing room was celebrating, they're cheering, they’re stomping, but we got to maintain control and the vision and what's happened to that spacecraft," Kranz remembered.
Kranz can now relive those moments in a newly refurbished Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center.
"When I walked into the viewing room before and I saw this entire room lit up. It was almost like, we're between shifts and there's a shift change or everybody's out for a restroom break. So, this room is now empty, it's going to soon be filled."
With technology from the 1960s, the room is being recreated to commemorate a seminal moment in American history.
It brought former Flight Activity Officer Spencer Gardner back in time.
“I remember seeing it before the restoration started and it looked like neglect,” said Gardner.
The $5-million project, funded almost all from donations, is getting museum-quality treatment.
“Even the carpeting and the wallpaper were recreated. They worked with us to make those things happen,” continued Gardner.
Upon completion, tourists will be able to visit the Mission Center in commemoration of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary.
“Apollo 11 was the most difficult because we had to be perfect on the spot with whatever calls we made, they had to be right.”