Chris Kraft, Legendary NASA Flight Director, Dies at 95

Universe Today | 6/4/1965 | Staff
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The man known as the ‘father of flight control’ – Christopher C. Kraft, Jr. – has died at the age of 95. Kraft joined the NASA Space Task Group in November 1958 and became the first flight director. He created the concepts of mission planning, and real-time monitoring and control for the first U.S. crewed spaceflight missions and became a driving force in the U.S. space program.

“America has truly lost a national treasure with the passing of one of NASA’s earliest pioneers – flight director Chris Kraft,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. “We send our deepest condolences to the Kraft family.

Christopher - C - Kraft - Jr - Console

Christopher C. Kraft Jr., at his console in the Mission Control Center during Gemini-4 spaceflight on June 4, 1965. He served as mission director and as a flight director. Credit: NASA.

Kraft’s death comes just as NASA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, the first to land on the Moon.

Kraft - Ideas - Communications - Space - Tracking

The legendary Kraft personally came up with the ideas for space-to-ground communications, space tracking, real-time problem solving and crew recovery. He was behind the famous go/no-go decisions, and also had the idea for “integrated simulations” where the astronauts and flight control teams trained together, since they would be working so closely during the real missions.

Before the first mission to space ever flew, it was Kraft who began creating flight plans and figuring out how the spacecraft should be operated. He was inspired by his early work as an aircraft flight test engineer. He led the instrumentation teams on the ground during several of the first attempts to break the sound barrier, and Kraft realized that just like test pilots, astronauts would need a system of communications and support back on Earth during critical phases of the mission. He knew they would also require a ground-based...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Universe Today
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