NASA opens $5M Apollo mission control room restoration for public tours

NASA's historic Apollo mission control room reopens to public after restoration

HOUSTON, Texas (KLTV) - As the country marks 50 years since the history-making Apollo 11 moon landing, visitors to Space Center Houston are getting an inside look at the landmark that helped make the ‘giant leap’ possible.

Three weeks ago, NASA and Space Center Houston unveiled a $5 million dollar renovation of Mission Operations Control Room 2, which was used during the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle programs.

Visitors will be able to witness exactly what it looked like on July 20, 1969, at the moment Neil Armstrong took his historic first steps on the lunar surface.

“And it appears as if the flight controllers have just gotten up to take a break,” said William Harris, president and CEO of Space Center Houston.

The efforts of the hundreds of men and women who made the Apollo missions a success were first recognized in 1985 when the control room earned a designation as a National Historic Landmark.

50TH ANNIVERSARY: Inside look at the historic operations control room at Johnson Space Center

“It’s a great example of how you can build teams, work with teams under stress and pressure to achieve extraordinary things,” Harris said.

A major restoration effort got off the ground in 2013, after a significant contribution from the City of Webster and several private donations.

Former flight controllers were consulted along with old film and photos, in an attempt to achieve authenticity in the project.

"For me it’s a double pleasure because I got to hear about them, learn about them. But then I’m getting to work with them to make it happen and to restore it so that we can all enjoy it for future generations,” said Tracy Lamm, Chief Operating Officer of Space Center Houston.

Workers replaced the carpet and ceiling tiles before the refurbished consoles were delivered. Personal items from the period, such a ash trays, flight manuals, and telephones were added for effect.

The walls are adorned with the mission emblems of every spaceflight managed from that room.

The public can view the control room from the Space Center Houston tram tour seven days a week.

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