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Christopher C. Kraft Jr.
Chris Kraft.jpg
Chris Kraft as director of Johnson Space Center in 1979
Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr.

(1924-02-28)February 28, 1924
Died July 22, 2019(2019-07-22) (aged 95)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Alma mater Virginia Tech, B.S. 1944
Occupation NASA flight director
Director of Johnson Space Center
Spouse(s) Betty Anne Kraft (m. 1950)
Children 2
Awards ASME Medal (1973)
Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership (1979)

Christopher Columbus "Chris" Kraft Jr. (February 28, 1924 – July 22, 2019) was an American NASA engineer and manager. He was important in the creation of the agency's Mission Control operation.

Early life

Kraft Jr. was born in Phoebus, Virginia. He studied at the Virginia Tech and graduated in 1944.


Kraft was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the organization before the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He worked for over ten years in aeronautical research before being asked in 1958 to join the Space Task Group, a small team entrusted with the responsibility of putting America's first man in space. He was given the job to the flight operations division, Kraft became NASA's first flight director.

He was on duty during such historic missions as America's first manned spaceflight, first manned orbital flight, and first spacewalk.

He retired in April 1982.

In 2011, the Mission Control Center building was named after him.

Personal life

In 1950, Kraft married Betty Anne Turnbull. They had two children. He was an Episcopalian. Kraft died on July 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas, aged 95, two days after the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moonwalks.

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