HOUSTON – The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), in partnership with the nonprofit Space Center Houston and NASA, today announced additional funding for the restoration of the Apollo Mission Control Center (MCC) at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Texas, allowing the inclusion of the historic visitor Viewing Room.
Space Center Houston raised $1 million to add to the already $3.1 million project to ensure the Viewing Room, a dedicated space where family members and VIP guests were able to observe mission controllers without disrupting them, is restored to its late 1960s state. The funding is being administered by the ACHP.
“There has been great enthusiasm for this restoration project, recalling a time when the world’s eyes were on Johnson Space Center, enthralled by the new era of space travel,” said ACHP Chairman Milford Wayne Donaldson FAIA. “Through a unique public-private partnership between the City of Webster, Texas; Space Center Houston; NASA; and the ACHP, this historic site will be preserved and will serve as an educational tool for future generations who missed this incredible period of our nation’s space exploration. We encourage other federal agencies to investigate these types of partnerships to preserve their historic properties.”
Since being decommissioned in the 1990s, the Apollo MCC–a National Historic Landmark (NHL) housed within JSC–was assigned “threatened” status by the National Park Service (NPS) in 2015. The predicament led Gene Kranz, flight director for the famed Apollo and Gemini missions in the 1960s, to ask Chairman Donaldson for the ACHP’s assistance in restoring the Apollo MCC.
NASA is not currently authorized by law to accept private contributions dedicated to specific projects, such as the Apollo MCC restoration. Thus, the private funding secured by Space Center Houston is being administered by the ACHP. The nonprofit Space Center Houston is the official visitor center for JSC. The ongoing campaign has raised more than $4 million.
Restoration of NASA’s Apollo Mission Control Center (MCC) is currently underway. NASA and its partners aim to renovate the Apollo MCC in time for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing in July 2019.
As the project has progressed, workers have uncovered the center’s original wallpaper, carpeting, and ceiling tiles and are recreating them for the project. The Mission Control consoles also will be reanimated to represent the Apollo 15 mission configuration and adorned with an array of personal items and replicas of authentic documents to recreate the historic scene setting. NASA’s restoration effort, which affects multiple spaces within the Apollo MCC, is being conducted in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and coordinated with the NPS NHL Program and the Texas Historical Commission..
The ACHP is authorized to administer donations through 1976 amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act. An Executive Order signed in 2003 by President George W. Bush directs the ACHP to use its donation authority to assist other federal agencies in the preservation of historic properties. The funding of the Apollo MCC restoration is the first such use of the authority to date.