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USNASA's Chris Kraft, who helped build Apollo, dies 50 years after moon landing

05:55  23 july  2019
05:55  23 july  2019 Source:   floridatoday.com

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NASA's Chris Kraft, who helped build Apollo, dies 50 years after moon landing© Provided by Gannett Co., Inc.

Christopher Kraft, a key architect behind several early NASA programs and the agency's first flight director, has died at 95, according to a statement released Monday.

Kraft played a significant role in the precursors to the Apollo moon missions, known as Mercury and Gemini. He developed the concept of mission control and became director of flight operations during Apollo at NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, now known as the Johnson Space Center. He would also advance to serve as the center's director until his retirement in 1982.

"We're saddened by the passing of Chris Kraft, our first flight director," NASA said in a Monday statement. "He was a space legend who created the concept of mission control during the early human spaceflight program and made it an integral part of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions."

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Kraft's passing comes as the agency, institutions and people across the country celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's landing on the moon, which occurred at 4:17 p.m. July 20.

“America has truly lost a national treasure today with the passing of one of NASA’s earliest pioneers," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. "We stand on his shoulders as we reach deeper into the solar system, and he will always be with us on those journeys.”

In an interview in February with the Houston Chronicle, Kraft, who was born in Virginia and attended Virginia Tech, said he never wanted to be an astronaut.

“I liked my job better than theirs,” he said. “I got to go on every flight, and besides that, I got to tell them what to do.”

Contact Emre Kelly at aekelly@floridatoday.com or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly.

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: NASA's Chris Kraft, who helped build Apollo, dies 50 years after moon landing

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