Saturday (July 20, 2019) was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. To celebrate the day, I took my youngest daughter, who is quite space obsessed, to the Johnson Space Center in Houston for the special event.
One of the highlights of the day was getting to see the newly restored mission control room. The mission control room was used during the Apollo program and then into the space shuttle era. The ISS is now operated out of a different mission control room and this one sat unused for years. But, for the 50th anniversary, funds were raised and the room was restored to its Apollo era state, complete with period paraphernalia.
The consoles were pulled out of storage, old office chairs were found, the displays were recreated, even the flooring and wall paper were restored. I took the above photo from the viewing room to get a close up of some of the exhibit. It was really amazing to see something like this as though I was sitting there in 1969 (before I was born).
I took all of these photos on my iPhone. The below image is an attempt at a panorama from the observation room. As you can see, it came out quite distorted. But it does show most of the room.
I opted for the VIP tour which allowed us access to the viewing room overlooking mission control. This is the same room that world leaders and the families of astronauts sat in during missions. I almost felt like I was in the past, if not for all of the people holding up mobile phones to take pictures.
For comparison, below is a NASA photo that was taken in 1969 just after the Apollo 11 mission. This is a public domain image.
In the same building, we also toured the Orion mission control room, which is also back-up for the ISS mission control room. As you can see, it is all desks full of keyboards and computer monitors waiting to be used.
When I took this picture, a Soyuz spacecraft that had launched earlier that day with three crew members for the International Space Station was preparing to dock with the space station over South America. You can see this on the main screen in the room if you zoom in. Quite a busy day.
The mission control rooms are in a building named for Christopher Kraft, an engineer who helped establish mission control. As I write this two days after the anniversary celebration, Mr. Kraft has just passed away at age 95. Below is a photo of Mr. Kraft in mission control during a Mercury mission that I got from the NASA website.
And as the sun set, the day ended with a concert featuring Phillip Phillips and Walk the Moon. The below photo was taken during the performance of Phillip Phillips with the sunset in the background. Yes, I was quite close to the stage and I enjoyed Phillip Phillips.
I am very happy that my daughter is so interested in the space program like me and I get to do these things with her. It was a fun day basking in the history of the greatest engineering achievement of all time (I may be a bit biases on that). Today NASA participates in the International Space Station orbiting laboratory, which is one of the greatest examples of international cooperation in the world (or above it). I think it is time to go back to the moon.
Thanks for reading.