Kraft, Christopher C.
Christopher Columbus Kraft, Jr. was born on February 28, 1924, in Phoebus, Virginia. He received his BS degree in aeronautical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) in December 1944.
Kraft joined the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1945 as a flight engineer. In October 1958, he was selected as one of the original members of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Task Group, which had been established to manage Project Mercury, the nation's first project to put a man in space. In the early phases of Project Mercury, Kraft was a prime contributor to the development of many of the basic mission and flight control techniques used in manned space flight. He personally served as Flight Director for all the Mercury missions and many of the Gemini missions. During the latter phase of Project Mercury, he directed the design and implementation of the Mission Control Center at the Johnson Space Center (originally the Manned Spacecraft Center) in Houston, from which all of NASA's manned space flights have been conducted. Kraft was named deputy director of the Manned Spacecraft Center in 1970, and later director in 1972. He retired from NASA in 1982 and and subsequently served as a consultant for various corporations. In 2001, Kraft's autobiography, Flight: My Life in Mission Control was published.
Kraft has been the recipient of a number of awards and honors, including three honorary doctorates (Indiana Institute of Technology, 1966; St. Louis University, 1967; and Villanova University, 1979); the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, 1963; the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, 1969; the American Astronautical Society's Space Flight Award, 1970; and the Ambassador of Exploration Award, 2006. In 2011, the Johnson Space Center renamed its Mission Control Center the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center in his honor.
Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:
The Melvin N. Gough collection spans from 1919 to 1971 and includes a wide variety of materials reflecting Gough's career as a test pilot, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) administrator, and flight safety investigator. Types of materials include NACA and Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development (AGARD) reports and documents, articles, correspondence, notes and speeches, and newspaper and magazine clippings.
The collection consists of approximately 28 cu. ft. of manuscripts, particularly NACA and NASA reports and documents, meeting notes and agendas, and research materials. A later donation contains the manuscript for 2001 Kraft's autobiography.