Restoration begins at NASA for historic mission control

The restoration of the historic NASA mission control at Johnson Space Center has officially begun. It has been a project four-and-a-half years in the making and when completed, it will be restored to its condition during the Apollo missions era.

“We’re going to bring that time back, we’re going to have everyone experience that," said Sandra Tetley, historic preservation officer for JSC.

However, few people know what it was really like back then during those Apollo missions.

“Think about people being in here three or four days," said Edward Fendell, an Apollo flight controller who worked out of the Mission Control for several missions, including Apollo 11 and 13. "Never bathing, never brushing their teeth, dirty clothes, spilling Chinese food, pizza and coffee."

Historic mission control was in operation until 1992, even used during the space shuttle program.

“Smoke would get so thick in here, you couldn’t see the front screen from the back," said William Reeves, who was an Apollo flight controller and flight director during the early years of the space shuttle program.

The restoration, spearheaded by Space Center Houston, will bring that past to the present. Four of the $5 million project was already raised, thanks to generous donations and a campaign.

"We were thrilled that the City of Webster stepped forward with a lead gift of $3.1 million," said William T. Harris with Space Center Houston.

Guests will step back in time as they turn into the Visitor Viewing Room, looking at the Mission Operations Control Room as it was when The Eagle landed on the lunar surface in 1969.

“They’ll be hearing all the sounds, they’ll be hearing the chatter, the lights will be on, the proper screens will be on, the mission clocks, they will hear all of that action going on," explained Tetley.

A way of preserving the past for those like Edward Fendell who lived it, now hoping future generations will always remember.

“The guys who worked in this room, someday, their great-great grandkids will be here and we want it to be like that," said an emotional Fendell.

The restoration will be complete on July 20, 2019, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.