Cosmosphere restores Apollo-era mission control consoles

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – The Cosmosphere Space Museum in Hutchinson has spent a year and a half restoring mission control consoles from the Apollo-era. 

“These were the consoles that helped us put man on the moon,” said Jack Graber, vice president of technology and exhibits at Cosmosphere. “This was the communication between the Johnson Space Center and the astronauts.”

That communication included information about the rocket’s engines, conditions of the astronauts and more. 

Those at Cosmosphere did extensive research to restore the consoles, even finding photos of when they were in use decades ago. 

“For the day, this was cutting edge technology in very many ways,” said Graber. 

To compare the technology, experts at Cosmosphere said the consoles have less computing power than cell phones today. 

The restored consoles will be put in a new mission control room at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. 

It will be constructed to look the same as it did the day astronauts landed on the moon with Apollo 11. 

“This is probably one of the coolest projects we’ve worked on in a long time,” said Don Aich, restoration and exhibits craftsman at Cosmosphere. 

For the experts, making the technology look alive again wasn’t an easy task. 

“They had been disconnected from power and they were just sitting idle,” said Graber. 

“We had to make them from scratch and that was probably the toughest part,” said Aich. 

Graber, Aich and a few others had to find ways to recreate certain buttons, screens and other objects on the consoles. 

While a little piece of Hutchinson is making history, those at Cosmosphere are hoping the people who get to enjoy the restored consoles will realize how historic and special they are. 

“Just the pride we felt back then and how many people it took to do what we did,” said Graber. “It’s pretty overwhelming. You don’t really think about it until you step back and look at it.”

The consoles will head to Houston at the end of May and will be included in the overall restoration of the historic Mission Control Operations Room that will be revealed this summer. 

The completion of the consoles comes just in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing on July 20, 1969. 

For more information about Cosmosphere and other projects, click here.

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