June 3, 2019

Untold story of Apollo 11 moon landing to be shared by flight director Gene Kranz

Gene Kranz Gene Kranz. (Courtesy photo) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Imagine being a part of the Apollo mission that sent the first men to the moon. What was it like to work alongside Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins? And, what are the best-kept secrets about the Apollo 11 mission?

Apollo 11’s flight director, Gene Kranz, will present “Go or No-Go: The Untold Story of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing” at Purdue University. The event will take place at 3 p.m. July 18 in Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse. Kranz will touch on his role during Apollo 11’s mission and how he contributed to the giant leap of space exploration. The event is sold out.

July 20 is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, when Purdue alumnus Armstrong set foot on the moon. His giant leap is the theme for Purdue’s Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial Campaign. Purdue is celebrating both with Apollo 11 activities on July 18-20, and the 150th anniversary celebration will conclude with an astronaut reunion at Homecoming. A schedule of the Apollo 11 activities is forthcoming.

Kranz spent 37 years at NASA. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in aeronautical engineering from Parks College of St. Louis University, he was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force, where he flew high performance jet fighter aircraft including the F-80, F-86 and F-100. In 1960, he started working at NASA on the NASA Task Group as an assistant flight director for Project Mercury. He assumed the same role on the Project Gemini missions.

Kranz then was selected as division chief for Flight Control in 1968, which led to his being flight director on Apollo 11 lunar landing, and then taking over the leadership of the Apollo 13 “Tiger Team.” For his role in safely landing Apollo 13 – the third moon landing attempt, and the one that produced the infamous “Houston, we’ve had a problem” line – Kranz received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1970 from President Richard Nixon. Since retirement, Kranz has written a New York Times best-seller memoir on his experiences with the space program titled “Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond.” 

Writer: Madison Sanneman, 317-903-5642, msannema@purdue.edu  

Media Contact: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9273, apatterson@purdue.edu  

Source: Stephanie McKinley, events specialist for College of Engineering, samckinl@purdue.edu 

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