Go, Flight! The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control, 1965-1992

Go, Flight! The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control, 1965-1992

Go, Flight! The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control, 1965-1992

Go, Flight! The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control, 1965-1992


At first glance, it looks like just another auditorium in just another government building. But among the talented men (and later women) who worked in mission control, the room located on the third floor of Building 30--at what is now Johnson Space Center--would become known by many as "the Cathedral." These members of the space program were the brightest of their generations, making split-second decisions that determined the success or failure of a mission. The flight controllers, each supported by a staff of specialists, were the most visible part of the operation, running the missions, talking to the heavens, troubleshooting issues on board, and, ultimately, attempting to bring everyone safely back home.

None of NASA's storied accomplishments would have been possible without these people. Interviews with dozens of individuals who worked in the historic third-floor mission control room bring the compelling stories to life. Go, Flight! is a real-world reminder of where we have been and where we could go again given the right political and social climate.


20 July 1969—The Eagle had landed, and Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin were now preparing for man’s first walk on the moon. in contrast to the intense drama that played out earlier in the day, activities in mission control had settled down, and my fellow mission controllers were starting to relax, at least a little.

What a day!

What a day indeed!

Around 9 p.m., I realized I was drained. the day’s excitement and cliffhanging moments had taken their toll on me. My relief, Charlie Dumis, had arrived earlier to take over the console duties, so I decided to unplug from my console and take a break before Neil and Buzz were scheduled to make their way out of the lander for the historic moonwalk. There was no way I was going to go home. Not yet. Not today.

I headed for the exit of the Mission Control Center building not realizing what I was about to experience. As I stepped out of the front door of the building, there it was, maybe thirty or forty degrees above the western horizon. a beautiful crescent moon appeared through the haze of that July Houston evening. That was the moment it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Neil and Buzz are on the moon. They are really there.

I was completely awestruck by the view. As a boy growing up in rural Texas and Oklahoma, I spent many evenings outdoors and had watched and wondered about our moon countless times over, but suddenly things changed. the impact was immediate, and in a way that I have never looked at the moon the same way since.

I reported for work that morning feeling a bit anxious about the day’s challenge, even though I felt prepared for the task at hand. During previous Gemini and Apollo missions and for countless numbers of mission . . .

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