Sometimes I am reminded why I am becoming an aerospace engineer, and why I keep coming back to work at NASA each summer. Last night was one of those times.
Pooja set things up for all the co-ops to watch Apollo 13 in the old Mission Control Center. On the screen, I watched Ed Harris sit at the staged flight director’s console and work with other actors to bring Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon home while sitting at the real flight director’s console where the real Gene Kranz worked with real flight controllers to bring the real Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert home.
The experience was surreal. Thirty years ago, the room we were sitting in was the center of seven flights to the moon. Today, it looks the same as it did then. A little cleaner perhaps, and a lot less crowded with handbooks and papers and calculators and cigars, but still the same.
In one sense, it is inspiring to be able to gaze into the room preserved as it was when it made history. On the other hand, it will never again do more than gather dust, because we stopped shooting for the stars.
I want to be working here when we go back to the moon. Or on to Mars. I want to be here when Mission Control becomes the center of the universe again.