Behind America’s late leap into orbit and a triumphant small step on the moon was the agile mind and guts-of-steel of Chris Kraft, making split-second choices that propelled the nation to as soon as unimaginable heights.
Kraft, the creator and longtime chief of NASA’s Mission Control, died on Monday in Houston, simply two days after the 50th anniversary of what was his and NASA’s crowning achievement: Apollo 11′s moon landing. He was 95.
Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr. by no means flew in space, however “held the success or failure of American human spaceflight in his hands,” Neil Armstrong, the first man-on-the-moon, informed The Associated Press in 2011.
Kraft based Mission Control and created the job of flight director — later evaluating it to an orchestra conductor — and established how flights can be run because the space race between the US and Soviets heated up. The legendary engineer served as flight leader for all the one-man Mercury flights and seven of the two-man Gemini flights, helped design the Apollo missions that took 12 People to the moon from 1969 to 1972 and later served as director of the Johnson Space Center till 1982, overseeing the start of the period of the space shuttle.
Armstrong knew as him “the person who was the ‘Control’ in Mission Control.”
“From the moment the mission begins till the moment the crew is protected onboard a restoration ship, I’m in charge,” Kraft wrote in his 2002 e-book “Flight: My Life in Mission Control.”