50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

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.

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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.

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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.

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For comparison, below is a NASA photo that was taken in 1969 just after the Apollo 11 mission. This is a public domain image.

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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.

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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.

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Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr. in Mission Control
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.

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Phillip Phillips at the Johnson Space Center

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.

7 thoughts on “50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

  1. I had absolutely no interest in NASA or space in general until we visited Kennedy last December in Florida. It was amazing… and now I’m totally hooked. I’m binge watching PBS’s NOVA series on the moon landings and The Planets. Fascinating stuff! When you realize the missions they accomplished with the limited tech of the era? Mind blowing….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks.

      I am so glad that my daughter is really interested in this as it gives me an excuse to get into it again.

      A few days ago we were at the Houston Museum of Natural History (a fantastic museum) and on the big screen they were playing an Apollo 11 movie with real footage from the time. The landing sequence was nerve-wracking. There were unexplained error codes beeping and limited fuel as Neil was trying to find a landing spot. They said that his heart-rate spike to over 150 bpm during the landing sequence and I am sure that he was in excellent physical condition at the time. But, he had nerves of steel.

      The engineer in me geeks out at the moon landings and the Mars rovers as amazing feats of engineering. If we could just do more of that and less building stuff to kill people.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. Watching NOVA I was quite surprised at how many missions to Mars there have been that I’ve never heard of. Even Jupiter… we’re still out there, still exploring. Sadly the tragedies here on this planet have to take center stage.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Another hopeful point, is that for about 18 years now we have shared a permanently staffed orbital laboratory with the Russians, Europeans, Canadians, and Japanese. From the construction in orbit to the maintenance and operations of the International Space Station, we have had very successful and peaceful cooperation in this endeavor. Even right now, there are several people from different countries working together on the ISS. At least we know that we have the ability to get along if we try.

        Like

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