Press Release

NASA Honors America’s First Flight Director Chris Kraft

By SpaceRef Editor
September 21, 2006
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NASA Honors America’s First Flight Director Chris Kraft

NASA will honor Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., for his key involvement in America’s space programs with the presentation of the Ambassador of Exploration Award. The ceremony is at 10:30 a.m. EDT Saturday, Sept. 30, in the Inn at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Va.

NASA is presenting the Ambassador of Exploration Award to the astronauts and other key individuals who participated in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs for realizing America’s vision of space exploration from 1961 to 1972.

Kraft originally joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, NASA’s predecessor agency, in 1945. In 1958, he joined the newly created NASA as one of the original members of the Space Task Group organized to design and manage Project Mercury. He was America’s first manned space mission flight director, managing all of the Mercury and several Gemini missions.

Kraft served as director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston from January 1972 to August 1982. He was one of the designers and implementers of the Mission Control Center in Houston, the heart of all NASA crewed space missions. After his retirement from federal service in 1982, he served as an aerospace consultant for numerous companies.

The Ambassador of Exploration Award is a small sample of the 842 pounds of the lunar material collected during the six Apollo moon landings from 1969 to 1972. The sample is encased in Lucite and mounted for public display. The material for Kraft’s award came from the samples brought back by the crew of Apollo 11, the first to land on the moon in 1969.

Kraft’s award will be displayed at Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. For College of Engineering and event information, contact Lynn Nystrom at: 540-231-4371; e-mail:

For Kraft biographical information, visit:

Video from the event will air as a NASA TV Video File. For NASA TV streaming video, scheduling and digital downlink information visit:

For information about NASA and agency programs visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.