Gene Kranz, NASA Mission Director during Apollo Landing
For people from a different generation is hard to understand and imagine what it meant to reach the moon. A few generations were not there at the time. Feeling connected and getting a deep understanding of the accomplishment is understandably hard. In such a context, the testimonies and interviews of those involved with the mission have a paramount role. To help new generations understand and size the human achievement that was landing on the Moon.
NASA Flight Director, Gene Kranz is one of those mythical figures. American Aerospace Engineer, fighter pilot and retired NASA flight director, taking part in the Gemini and Apollo Missions. A giant figure in the history of U.S manned space exploration. In an article published yesterday in the Knights of Columbus online, he describes his participation in the Apollo Mission, fifty years later.
There is something that constantly stands out, as a very particular characteristic of the ones involved in such feat (apart from the extreme competence). The lack of selfishness and quick recognition of it as a collective achievement. From Franz’s recollection, I love the following fragment:
“Now, before we started down, I gave my team a speech. They were 26 years old on average, and we were doing something that had never been done before. I told them, “I will stand behind every decision you will make. We came into this room as a team and we will leave as a team.” And then we locked the control room doors; no one would enter or leave until we’d either landed, crashed or aborted the landing.”
In this walk down memory lane, this notable man, goes from the first minutes of the Moon landing day, that Twentieth of July, 1969, to the very last moments. You can feel the tension of a team in their way to make history. In a situation of that caliber, any minimal technical blip could have sent a wave of doubts to a less decided mission director.