AIAA Mourns the Passing of Aerospace Legend and AIAA Honorary Fellow Chris Kraft Written 23 July 2019
CONTACT: Michele McDonald
July 23, 2019 – Reston, Va. – Known as the godfather of NASA’s Mission Control, Chris Kraft’s dedication to safety and exacting standards played a crucial role in the success of the U.S. space mission. He died on July 22, two days after the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11th moon landing.
“Without Chris Kraft, human spaceflight would not be where it is today,” said Dan Dumbacher, AIAA executive director. “Our debt to this engineer’s engineer is immeasurable because he gave us the steady foundation from which to explore beyond our world.”
Kraft personally invented the mission planning and control processes required for crewed space missions, in areas as diverse as go/no-go decisions, space-to-ground communications, space tracking, real-time problem solving and crew recovery, according to NASA.
Kraft joined AIAA in 1965 and received the Institute’s highest award of Honorary Fellow in 1981. Kraft won AIAA’s Louis W. Hill Space Transportation Award in 1970, received the Goddard Astronautics Award in 1970, was a von Kármán Lecture Award Recipient in 1979 and served on the Aerospace America Advisory Board in 1994.
In his book “Flight: My Life in Mission Control,” Kraft captured the sentiments of many AIAA members who are part of transformative projects:
“Scientists say there is no life on the moon. I look at the moon today, see the faces from NASA, industry, science and academe who brilliantly sent Americans to that place, and I know differently. The people of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo are blossoms on the moon. Their spirits will live there forever. I was part of the crowd, then part of leadership that opened space travel to human beings. We threw a narrow flash of light across our nation’s history. I was there at the best of times.”
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 85 countries, and 95 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, www.aiaa.org, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
12700 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 200, Reston, VA 20191-5807
Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551 www.aiaa.org