NASA's Historic First Mission Control Center Recreated for 'Hidden Figures'

Space.com | 1/10/2017 | Staff
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Click For Photo: http://www.space.com/images/i/000/061/517/original/mercury-control-center-hidden-figures01.jpg?interpolation=lanczos-none&downsize=*:1000

NASA's original mission control briefly returns to service, recreated for the 20th Century Fox film "Hidden Figures," seven years after the historic facility was demolished and two months after its contents reopened on public display as part of a new attraction.

The Mercury Control Center (MCC), which was founded at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, was active for the first seven U.S. human spaceflights, from May 1961 to March 1965. As the first of its kind, the MCC debuted the now iconic layout — tiered rows of consoles and an orbital tracking map at the front of the room — which became the model for NASA flight facilities and mission control centers around the world.

Movie - Liberties - Settings - Details - Filmmakers

Though the movie takes artistic liberties with other settings and details, the filmmakers paid close attention to replicate the look of the Mercury Control Center.

"We were very careful to honor the spirit of it," said Wynn Thomas, production designer for the film. "We did not want to get it wrong there."

Figures - Facility - Cape - Canaveral - NASA

"Hidden Figures" relocates the tracking facility from Cape Canaveral to NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia for the purposes of its story, but it is unmistakable for the room where flight controllers monitored John Glenn as he became the first American to orbit Earth.

"For me, as a designer, it is always important to start with the truth, with what is real," Thomas told collectSPACE.com in an interview. "As a result, there was an extensive amount of research that was done."

Idea

"The whole idea was to try to recreate it as faithfully as we possibly could," he said.

NASA’s original mission control, the Mercury Control Center, as it looked when staffed and operational in 1963.

'As close as we got'

NASA's real Mercury Control Center, Building 1385 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, no longer exists.

National - Historic - Site

The National Historic Site...
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