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Christopher C. Kraft Papers, 1941-1998 (Ms1985-001)

 Digital Record
Identifier: Ms1985-001


  • 1941 - 1998


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from Christopher C. Kraft Papers must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Biographical Note

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.

Recent News:

NASA Names Mission Control for Legendary Flight Director Christopher Kraft, April 14, 2011 Air & Space Magazine Interview, March 17, 2010 Johnson Space Center Oral History Project

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

The majority of the collection was given to Newman Library in November 1985 and formally donated in April 1986. Additional materials were donated to Special Collections in January 2003.

Related Materials

Papers from several individuals with whom Kraft worked are available at Special Collections, including:

Ms1987-057, Melvin N. Gough Papers Ms1990-053, Robert R. Gilruth Papers Ms2005-019, William Hewitt Phillips Papers

Descriptions of additional Archives of American Aerospace Exploration collections are available online at


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.


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 Kraft's autobiography.

From Kraft's early years at Langley Flight Research Division, the collection includes notes, calculations, and drawings for many projects (testing the stability and control of the X-1, P-47 Thunderbolt, and P-51 H Mustang airplanes, for example). It also includes calculations and draft reports on the gust-alleviation system designed by Kraft and then-division head, William Hewitt Phillips.

The collection contains heavily-annotated editions of "Mission Rules" for Project Mercury, extensive files of post-launch reports and astronaut debriefing transcripts from Kraft's early NASA years (1958-1970), as well as correspondence, notes, and memoranda. Materials from Kraft's later years at NASA (1970-1982) include professional notes, detailing meetings and telephone conversations, plus meeting agendas, memos, and other work documents.

Processing Information

Initial processing, arrangement, and description of the Christopher C. Kraft Papers was completed in the late 1980s. During 2010 and 2011, materials were re-foldered and oversize items were removed from boxes. The existing folder list was revised against the collection contents, and a new finding aid was created.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US