Learning Center Our Enshrinees

Christopher C. Kraft Jr.

  • Accepted a job with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics at Langley, Virginia where his work in the Flight Research Division included measuring flying qualities of service aircraft and developing an early gust alleviation system for aircraft flying in turbulence.
  • Asked by Robert Gilruth (enshrined 1994) to join the new Space Task Group following the launch of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik. This small team of thirty-five engineers’ goal was to safely put the first American man into space
  • Assigned to the flight operations division and was given the responsibility of developing a mission plan for manned space flight. He would need to develop, from scratch, flight plans, timelines, procedures, mission rules, spacecraft tracking, telemetry, ground support, telecommunications networks and contingency management.
  • Conceived of and designed what was called a “Mission Control Center” and created the concept of a “flight director,” the point-person who would coordinate the team and make real-time decisions about the conduct of the mission.
  • Named NASA’s first flight director and remained in that position for all six manned Mercury missions.
  • Became the head of mission operations, in charge of all flight directors while still serving as one. Following Gemini 7, Chris assigned other directors to take charge of the remaining missions at Mission Control so he could devote more time to managing the upcoming Apollo moon program.
  • Served on review boards at North American Aviation, the contractor responsible for the Apollo capsule.
  • Promoted to Director of Flight Operations for the entire Apollo program.
  • Named Deputy Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center and, on January 14, 1972, he became its Director, where he played a significant role in the design and development of first reusable manned orbital vehicle, the Space Shuttle.

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