Former Johnson Space Center Director Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr., the man who created the iconic role of NASA flight director during the Mercury and Gemini programs and whose no-nonsense, uncompromising management style defined control room operations and discipline through the Apollo years and beyond, died Monday. He was 95.
“America has truly lost a national treasure today with the passing of one of NASA’s earliest pioneers — flight director Chris Kraft. We send our deepest condolences to the Kraft family,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“Chris was flight director at some of the most iconic moments of space history, as humans first orbited the Earth and stepped outside of an orbiting spacecraft. … We stand on his shoulders as we reach deeper into the solar system, and he will always be with us on those journeys.”
A legendary figure at the Johnson Space Center and across the agency, Kraft once said he set up mission control to monitor spacecraft systems, interact with astronauts in space and to stand ready, spring-loaded to “figure out all the things that could go wrong and be prepared to to deal with them.”