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Cosmosphere helps Johnson Space Center turn the clock back to 1969

The Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson will restore nearly two dozen consoles from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The SpaceWorks division will restore the consoles to what they were like in 1969 for the Apollo 11 mission that landed a man on the moon for the first time.
The Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson will restore nearly two dozen consoles from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The SpaceWorks division will restore the consoles to what they were like in 1969 for the Apollo 11 mission that landed a man on the moon for the first time. File photo

The Kansas Cosmosphere will be turning back the clock on some of the nation’s most famous pieces of space history.

Flight control consoles from Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center will arrive Monday in Hutchinson, where they will be restored to look exactly like they did in 1969 - the year man landed on the moon for the first time.

By the time the restoration is complete, visitors to the Houston complex will feel like they’ve been transported to 1969.

“It will appear as if the Mission Control operators left for lunch and you happened to stumble through the room,” said Carla Stanfield, public relations coordinator for the Cosmosphere.

The Cosmosphere’s SpaceWorks division has been hired to completely reconstruct nearly two dozen consoles from the Johnson Space Center. Four will be from the simulation control room, Stanfield said, while 19 were used in Mission Control.

They will be restored to look and function just as they did during the historic Apollo 11 mission.

“The screens; they will display as they would have at that time,” Stanfield said.

All of the buttons and other features of the consoles “will be correct and accurate” for that time period, she said.

When the restoration of Mission Control is complete, the public will be able to see the room just as it was on July 24, 1969 — the day man first set foot on the moon.

Carpeting, tile, paperwork, coffee cups, ashtrays, and even the wallpaper are in the process of being re-created, the Houston Chronicle reported. The Apollo 11 mission clocks will even be reactivated.

There will be one exception to the restoration: there will be no lit cigarettes burning in the ashtrays. According to legend, the Chronicle reported, when a door was opened to the outside hallways, the smoke would billow out like a smokehouse.

The flight control consoles are only the latest significant restoration project handled by Space Works. Among the others were the Liberty Bell 7, the Apollo 13 command module Odyssey and Saturn V F-1 engines used for the Apollo 11 mission.

The restoration of the Mission Control consoles will happen in several phases, Stanfield said.

“It is a great honor and we’re very excited to be a part of this project,” she said.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger

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