Gene Kranz

Legendary NASA Apollo Missions Flight Control Director

As the leader of the team of flight directors for the 1970 Apollo 13 space flight, Gene Kranz was instrumental in devising the plan that safely brought the ship and its crew home after its oxygen system failed.

He joined NASA in 1960 as assistant flight director for Project Mercury. He later assumed flight director duties for all Project Gemini Missions, and was branch chief for Flight Control Operations. He became division chief for Flight Control in 1968, and then a flight director for the Apollo 11 project before leading the Apollo 13 team. He contributed his expertise to a number of other NASA projects during his career, and served as both deputy director of Flight Operations and director of Mission Operations.

Mr. Kranz began his career in the U.S. Air Force in 1954, where he flew high performance jet fighters. He later worked as a flight-test engineer for McDonnell Aircraft before joining NASA. He was discharged from the Air Force Reserve in 1972, and retired from NASA in 1994. After retirement, he served as a flight engineer, constructed an aerobatic bi-plane, and in 2000 published a New York Times bestseller, “Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond,” later adapted for a documentary.

Mr. Kranz has been honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the Apollo 13 mission, and designation as a Distinguished Member of the Senior Executive Service. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Parks College of St. Louis University.