Where were you when men first landed on the moon? If you’re old enough to have heard Neil Armstrong announce, “The Eagle has landed,” you probably remember.
Gene Kranz certainly remembers. He was at his console at NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston — Buzz Aldrin’s voice in his ear and fuel levels on his mind as Armstrong piloted the Eagle closer and closer to the lunar surface. As flight director, Kranz was the final authority on every decision of the moon landing.
Kranz - Moments - NASA - Career - Work
Kranz had many memorable moments in his storied NASA career, including his work to save the astronauts of Apollo 13 (featured in the March 2019 issue of Columbia). Through tragedy and triumph, the longtime Knight of Columbus said a prayer to the Holy Spirit before every shift in mission control.
Now a member of Father Roach Council 3217 in Dickinson, Texas, he recently spoke with Columbia staff in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Here, he recounts the dramatic hours of July 20, 1969.
Morning - Mass - Day - Blessing - Mission
I got up very early in the morning; it was still dark when I left. I had gone to Mass the day before and obtained a blessing, as I did before every mission. I arrived at Mission Control and noticed there was a security guard in the parking lot. I parked my car, and he came up and said, “Are we gonna land today, Mister Kranz?” And all of a sudden, it just hit me: “Today is landing day.”
Walking into Mission Control, there’s normally a bunch of people going in and out, a lot of chattering. But it was almost totally silent. I went up to the third floor, where the control center was, and another guard was there.
Security - Room
The security was different, but then I walked into the room and it was just...
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