All About NASA’s Historic Mission Control in Houston, Texas

A glimpse to the past... Historic Mission Control, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas
A glimpse to the past… Historic Mission Control, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” This was the message American astronaut Neil Armstrong sent from the lunar module to NASA’s Mission Control Center, in Houston, Texas, at 3:18 p.m (CT) on July 20th, 1969, during the historic Apollo 11 trip, and before stepping onto the Moon’s surface.

Since then, Houston’s Mission Control Center, located in Building 30 of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, has been a world-famous site as it hosts the authentic equipment, including monitors and rotary dial phones, used 49 years ago during one of the most critical Apollo lunar missions. Completing the national goal of landing men on the Moon set by President John F. Kennedy, the place where the United States blazed the trail of space discovery is now a preserved national historic landmark.

Capsule communicator (CAPCOM) Charles Duke responded to the message from Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin using the following phrases: “Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You’ve got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.” Hours later, Neil Armstrong, taking his first steps on the lunar surface would deliver the following historical phrase to all people in the world: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

A glimpse to the present... Historic Mission Control, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, Photo by Katerina Papathanasiou
A glimpse to the present… Historic Mission Control, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. Visible on the front wall is the original American flag set on the Moon’s surface by the Apollo 17 crew. The flag was mounted on the lunar surface and saluted by the last astronauts to walk on the Moon. Photo by Katerina Papathanasiou
Apollo 11 crew from left to right: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin
Apollo 11 crew from left to right: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin

Apart from landing men on the Moon for the first time during the 1960’s, NASA has used the Historic Mission Control Center to monitor the rest of Apollo lunar missions, including the Apollo 13 trip. This mission is known for experiencing an in-flight emergency leading to the historic phrase “Houston, we have a problem.” The Mission Control also supervised the last ever Moon landing by Apollo 17, as well as nine Gemini, 21 space-shuttle and 40 other space missions. The general public can visit the control room where history was made joining an open-air tram tour at NASA Johnson Space Center that also includes the New Mission Control, Saturn V at Rocket Park and Building 9.

Advertisements