By Robert D. McFadden
Christopher C. Kraft Jr., the legendary founder of NASA’s mission control, who directed America’s first piloted orbital flights, oversaw the Apollo 11 lunar landing and was director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, died on Monday in Houston, two days after the 50th anniversary of that historic moment on the moon. He was 95.
NASA announced the death.
For 25 years, from the dawn of the space age in the 1950s to the threshold of almost routine launchings in the 1980s, Mr. Kraft played crucial roles in the space program. He devised the protocols for exploration beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, orchestrated early orbital missions and spacewalks, and developed projects that put astronauts on the moon and into the first reusable space shuttles.
Aside from the astronauts who made history — including Alan B. Shepard Jr., with his suborbital flight; John Glenn, in orbiting the Earth; and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first to land on the lunar surface — Mr. Kraft was the most familiar face of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s early years, the steady ground commander who often explained missions to a rapt world at news conferences.
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