"America has really lost a national treasure today with the passing of one of NASA's first pioneers, flight director Chris Kraft," said the administrator. from NASA, Jim Bridenstine, in a statement. "We send our deepest condolences to the Kraft family.Chris was one of the vital members of the team that helped our country to place humans in space and on the moon, and its inheritance is immeasurable. "
Kraft died in Houston but no further information on the circumstances was revealed.
Kraft joined the NASA Space Working Group in November 1958 as NASA's first flight director. He has worked on some of the most iconic moments in the history of space, including the fact that man is circling the Earth for the first time. A pioneer in his field, he created NASA's mission control concept.
"When comparing his complex work of flight director to that of orchestra conductor, Kraft said:" The conductor can not play all the instruments. but he knows when the first violin should play, and he knows when the trumpets must be strong or soft, and when the drummer should play drums, he mixes all that and comes out of the music. are we doing here, "said Bridenstine.
During the Apollo program, he was director of mission operations and had asked astronaut Ed White to return to the Gemini 4 capsule during the first spacewalk by an American. During his time at NASA, he held several management positions and retired as center director in 1982.
Christopher C. Kraft Jr. was born February 28, 1924 in Phoebus, Virginia, and is now part of Hampton. In high school, he played baseball, drums and was involved in the bugle body. In 1941, Kraft attended the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Tech) and studied mechanical engineering.
While the surrounding students joined the army, he attempted to enlist in the navy in 1942 but was declared unfit for service because of the burn in his left hand inflicted on the his childhood. The injury did not stop him from living his passion for the sport and he joined the VPI baseball team, where he played at the receiver.
After being inspired by an elective course, Kraft specialized in aeronautical engineering and graduated in 1944. He married his high school darling, Betty Anne Turnbull, in 1950. They have a son and a daughter, Gordon and Kristi-Anne .
Since he retired, he has consulted various companies, including IBM, and published his autobiography, a New York Times bestseller titled "Flight: My Life in Mission Control." He has received numerous awards and accolades for his work, including the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal and four NASA Distinguished Service Medals.
In 2011, NASA named its Building 30 Control Center at the Johnson Space Center in its honor "Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Mission Control Center."
"We stand on his shoulders as we go deeper into the solar system, and he will always stay with us on these trips," said Bridenstine.
Ashley Strickland and Dave Alsup of CNN contributed to this report.