July 22, 2019

First Flight

Christopher C Kraft, the man who "invented" both the concept of Mission Control and the position of Flight Director as NASA began their missions into space, passed away today at the age of 95.

Kraft served as the first (and only) Flight Director for all but the final Mercury mission, thus defining the job as the head of the engineers on the ground.  After "executive meddling" during John Glenn's orbital flight, he demanded and got the autonomy the role required.  From then on, the Flight Director's word became law during a mission, unable to be overruled by those outside of Mission Control.

He then became The Boss, selecting the men who would share the role with him into Gemini and beyond.  He invariably was in the command seat when the very difficult or never-before-performed things happened, such as the first US space walk. Prior to Gemini 8, he pulled himself off the rotation to prepare for the Apollo missions.

He was in mission control when the Apollo 1 fire during testing occurred... which also turned out to be the last time he was to be a Flight Director for NASA.  Instead, he became management as the Director of Flight Control and would have an integral role in the planning of Apollo missions.  He was called in by Flight Director Gene Kranz during the Apollo 13 incident, and headed the group that decided how to bring the crippled spacecraft and crew back to Earth.

Kraft became director of NASA's Manned Space Center in 1972, a role he held until he retired in 1982, shortly after the second flight of the Space Shuttle (STS-2).  In 2011, NASA named the Mission Control Center in his honor, and in 2016 he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

"He installed a sense of what was right, what was wrong, what you had to do, how good you had to be, and those standards that he kind of inbred into everybody, by his own example, and by what he did with us, continue today.  The Control Center today is a reflection of Chris Kraft."
-Glynn Lunney, one of the original Flight Directors selected by Kraft, 1998.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:56 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 365 words, total size 2 kb.

1 It's great that he lived to see the 50th anniversary, but I kinda wish he could have lived to see us go back.

Posted by: Mauser at July 23, 2019 08:45 PM (Ix1l6)

2 He also ended the flight careers of more than one astronaut that he felt didn't have the proper temperament to work under Mission Control's direction, and was by many accounts a...challenging...person to work with. But he was probably the only person who could insist on Mission Control being what it needed to be: the first, final, and only word on how any given space flight was going to be achieved.

Posted by: Ben at July 23, 2019 11:27 PM (4TRZx)

Hide Comments | Add Comment




What colour is a green orange?




25kb generated in CPU 0.04, elapsed 0.1607 seconds.
49 queries taking 0.1413 seconds, 253 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.