Saturday, July 21, 2012

50 Years Ago: Mission Control Center future announced

MSC under construction in Houston, 1962.

We're all so familiar with the phrase, "Houston, the Eagle Has Landed." And certainly, "Houston, we have a problem!" Forty-three years ago, Neil Armstrong proudly proclaimed that first phrase as the lunar module of Apollo 11 touched down on the surface of the Moon. On this day, July 21st, he and Buzz Aldrin walked on the dusty surface and communicated with the flight controllers back on Earth, at Houston. In 1970 astronaut Jim Lovell uttered the second phrase which made everyone at Houston (and the world) hold their breath as the astronauts tried to fix their critically broken Apollo 13 spacecraft and return to Earth.

On July 20, 1962, NASA Administrator James Webb made a public announcement that future space manned missions would be controlled from the Manned Space Center being built at Houston, Texas.

James Webb, NASA Administrator 1961-1968.

The MSC (not yet named for upcoming President Johnson) would be the flight control for missions in the planned Gemini and Apollo space programs. Still under construction, Webb promised the entire complex of communications, computers, control rooms, simulators, and other facilities would be ready by 1964. For the time being, mission operations were being controlled from control rooms and launch bunkers at the Cape Canaveral US Air Force station.

Also on July 21, NASA selected final designs for the Advanced Saturn launch complex facilities under construction just north of Cape Canaveral launch pads. This area would eventually be dedicated as the Kennedy Space Center, but in 1962 they were just starting to build the complex.

No comments: