Historic Mission Control urgently needs restoration. Please help preserve this National Historic Landmark.
The Apollo Mission Control Center (MCC) at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) is the site where NASA’s flight control team planned, trained and executed a series of human spaceflight missions whose goal was to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth. On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission achieved that historic goal – one of the most significant achievements in human history. In 1985, Historic Mission Control, a “cathedral of engineering,” was named to the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its historical significance.
Fast-forward more than 30 years later: Unlimited visitor access and declining budgets have taken a toll on this much-revered site. The result is that the condition of the Historic Mission Control has deteriorated to the point that the National Park Service listed it as “threatened” in 2015.
With the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 approaching in 2019, restoration of Historic Mission Control is now urgent, and a crowd of supporters is gathering. Retired Historic Mission Control operations team members are working with Space Center Houston to secure the funds needed to restore the site and create a world-class visitor experience that will inspire future generations through this amazing story of technological and human achievement. In 2016, Space Center Houston launched a $5 million campaign to fund this important effort.
The nearby City of Webster, Texas, was home to many of the flight controllers, engineers, scientists and other Apollo-program personnel during the heyday of Apollo. In early 2017, the City of Webster stepped forward with a lead gift of $3.1 million for the campaign. On top of this major contribution, they added a challenge grant to encourage broad public participation in the campaign. “The Webster Challenge” will match your gifts, dollar for dollar up to a maximum of $400,000, to help us meet our $5 million goal to restore Historic Mission Control. This Kickstarter campaign and the “Webster Challenge” is your chance to take part in this important mission.
Located on the third floor of Building 30 on the JSC campus, five distinct, interrelated areas make up Historic Mission Control. The Historic Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR2) includes the consoles used by flight controllers and large group display screens. Behind the screens is the summary display projection room, known as the “bat cave.” Adjacent to MOCR2 are two support rooms: the Simulation Control Room (Sim Room) and the Recovery Control Room, which served to coordinate support following splashdown. A wall with large windows separates MOCR2 from the Visitors Viewing Area, a dedicated space where family members and VIP guests were able to observe mission controllers without disrupting them.
The restoration project will focus on all five areas of Historic Mission Control, with the goal of accurately portraying how the area looked the moment the moon landing took place on July 20, 1969. Even more specifically, that look will portray the exact moment that the team of controllers, after achieving the impossible, put out their celebratory cigars and headed home for a much-needed night’s sleep.
CONSOLES AND OTHER DETAILS
Restoration will return Historic Mission Control to its authentic appearance in July 1969. To do so, a number of changes to the configuration of the consoles will take place. When the room served as mission control for the Space Shuttle Program during the 1980s, consoles were reconfigured and technology was upgraded. The project will restore each of the consoles to the Apollo era, specifically to mimic their Apollo 15 operational configuration.
Console arrays (such as panels, switches, indicators and monitors) also will be configured to their Apollo 15 locations, which represents the apex of technological achievement of the Apollo missions. Consoles will be shipped to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas, where experts in the SpaceWorks division will restore and reanimate each console. SpaceWorks has restored numerous flown space artifacts around the globe, including artifacts currently in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. They will install appropriate buttons and sequences and light the monochromatic displays on the CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors.
The reanimation of the consoles is a key component of bringing MOCR2 “back to life” for future visitors. In addition, the large group displays on the west wall of the MOCR2 will be reactivated using appropriate projection technology to recreate Apollo-era use of the screens. Lighting will be replaced in the room with dimmable LED lights, recreating the lighting settings that maximized control operations during Apollo missions. This will avoid future damage to historic furnishings from long-term exposure to unfiltered UV radiation. Even the historic “blue” overtone from the world map screen will be recreated.
Other important details include restoring and replacing the historic furnishings specific to the Apollo era. Extensive research, including interviews with Apollo flight controllers in the MOCR2, will confirm the activities that took place at each console and discover what types of personal items would be found on each console. We will replicate everything such as ash trays, binders, pencils, headsets and coffee cups.
We have a unique opportunity through the Webster Challenge to double every dollar you contribute up to a maximum of $400,000. This will give us a major boost in getting to our final goal of $5 million to fully realize the restoration project.
Historic Mission Control is more than just a site where history was made. It is a symbol of the dedicated team that achieved many extraordinary milestones through a process that continues to inspire generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts to tackle the technological and scientific challenges of today and tomorrow. A fully restored Historic Mission Control will pay tribute to this achievement and will have inestimable value to future educational programs that encourage young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Historic Mission Control and the men and women who supported it are responsible for extraordinary innovation and technological advancements that we use every day. Knowledge gained from the Apollo era has probably helped you more than you realize. Check out some of the ways Apollo-era NASA discoveries have improved daily life in the infographic below.
Isn’t Space Center Houston funded by the U.S. Government? The answer is no. Space Center Houston, a project of the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, is the nonprofit 501(c)(3) science center that serves as the Official Visitor Center of JSC. Space Center Houston relies on private contributions and ticket revenue to fund its operations. Projects like the restoration of Historic Mission Control depend entirely on private contributions.
We believe the Kickstarter community wants to make significant things happen. This project will restore and bring back to life one of the most important human achievements of the 20th century. We want to provide many people around the world the opportunity to be a part of this effort; Kickstarter is the best way to encourage your participation.
Your involvement does not end when you back our campaign. We will share updates on the progress of the restoration on a regular basis.
This is your chance to be a part of history!
In 2015, NASA officials worked with the National Park Service to develop the “Historic Furnishings Report and Visitor Experience Plan” that serves as the key planning document for the restoration. In late spring 2017, a consultation process took place with retired Apollo flight controllers, the National Park Service, JSC and Space Center Houston to develop specific recommendations for the restoration, all in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
The project will start in August 2017 with the restoration and reanimation of the consoles, as this part of the project has the longest lead time. While this is taking place, crews will begin basic cleaning, repair and refurbishment of the site, replacing carpet and acquiring all the historic furnishings required for a fully authentic Historic Mission Control. The anticipated completion date for the entire project is January 2019, in advance of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.
The budget for the project includes the cost of the restoration of Historic Mission Control, future maintenance of the historic landmark and the development of a first-class visitor experience that will interpret the historic Apollo program for the public. Kickstarter funds also will be used to produce and deliver unique Apollo-inspired rewards for backers like you!
We have a unique selection of rewards for space enthusiasts, history buffs and everyone in between. Renowned Star Trek designer Michael Okuda created a special mission patch for this project; a cardboard punch-out model of the Apollo 11 command module commemorates the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing; and the new documentary, “Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo,” is available for download. For backers interested in unique experiences, we have several once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to meet the real legends of Historic Mission Control!
Where goods and services are provided by Space Center Houston in exchange for your contribution, the amount that is deductible for federal income tax purposes is limited to the excess of your total contribution over the fair market value of the goods and services provided. The description of each reward includes an estimated deduction based on fair market value of the reward.
If we meet our goal, you will be asked to complete a survey so that we can send your rewards. Please allow an additional four to six weeks for your reward to ship internationally. Note: we are not responsible for international customs fees.
Some of the experiential rewards (such as tours, events and panel presentations) are offered at a specific time and place. Space Center Houston is not responsible for travel or other costs incurred by the backer to participate in these experiences. If a cause beyond the control of Space Center Houston requires cancelling or rescheduling an experience, Space Center Houston is not responsible for any additional travel or costs a backer may incur in order to participate at the new time. Space Center Houston cannot guarantee that the experiences are occurring on dates yet to be announced, or that if they must be rescheduled, will occur on a date that is convenient for all backers.
Space Center Houston is owned and operated by the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Space Center Houston, a leading science and space learning center with extensive educational programs, draws more than 1 million visitors annually. Space Center Houston is Houston’s first Smithsonian Affiliate and the Official Visitor Center of JSC. More than 200,000 youth from around the world visit the center annually to experience our educational space museum with more than 400 things to see and participate in targeted STEM programs.
Visitors come to Space Center Houston to tour the JSC campus and get a close up view of NASA’s human spaceflight program. Historic Mission Control is the most popular and revered site on the NASA Tram Tour. Once Historic Mission Control is fully restored, visitors will be able to see and experience the actual room where NASA flight controllers made history.
Since the City of Webster was incorporated in 1958, NASA has served as a catalyst to grow the city and the region. Webster is home to more than 2,200 business – many of which are aerospace companies working on NASA’s current deep space missions and the daily operations for the International Space Station. The city’s global importance to space exploration will continue through this generous gift.
The City of Webster for its leadership and generosity in helping to bring this project to life; Retired Apollo Flight Directors Gene Kranz and Milt Windler, controllers Ed Fendell, Spencer Gardner, Denny Holt, Jack Knight and William Moon; Adam Holt; Michael and Denise Okuda; Sandra Tetley, Space City Films; Haviland Digital, Keith Haviland and Gareth Dodds.
Risks and challenges
Officials at JSC refer to Historic Mission Control as “our Plymouth Rock.” It is the reason why JSC was established in the first place. The only risk is that we might fail to meet our goal and lack sufficient resources to honor and preserve the site to share its inspiration with future generations.
As for challenges, the people in Historic Mission Control landed the first man on the moon, and we welcome this challenge as a way to honor their work!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)