A few days ago we talked about the legendary NASA Flight Director, Gene Kranz. Yesterday we woke up with the news that we have to say goodbye to another giant. Christopher Kraft passed away. He was NASA mission director, since November 1958, even before such a role had a proper name. Part of the Project Mercury, NASA task group, Kraft was a key component of the team that would define space travel as we know it. He was given an unprecedented challenge, “How do you land a rocket on the moon, and how do you take off from the moon?” He asked rhetorically during a recent interview. “How would you do that? We couldn’t figure it out either.”
In the early days of NASA, Christopher Kraft had the opportunity to work during one of the most exciting moments of the space agency. Sending the first humans orbiting the planet. Defining the Mission Control concept, structuring the Apollo and space shuttle programs. Writing down the procedures, test and rules to ensure a safe flight of a human to space. As a testimony to his contribution, NASA’s Mission Control in Houston bears his name—the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center.
Nasa published an official statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the passing of Christopher Kraft. “Once comparing his complex work as a flight director to a conductor’s, Kraft said, ‘The conductor can’t play all the instruments–he may not even be able to play any one of them. But, he knows when the first violin should be playing, and he knows when the trumpets should be loud or soft, and when the drummer should be drumming. He mixes all this up and out comes music. That’s what we do here.’, he wrote. Twitter is full of messages giving recognition to his contributions to the space career.