Behind the scenes: Kansas crew begins restoring Apollo 11 consoles


The Cosmosphere has started to restore the Apollo 11 mission control consoles to their original state.

The SpaceWorks team, a division of the Cosmosphere, was selected by NASA to lead the restoration project. The consoles arrived at the SpaceWorks warehouse in late January of 2018.

“What we have been doing is a lot of research. We’ve been going and cataloging parts and pieces and starting to understand what we need to manufacture or replicate what’s missing or what’s not there,” said Jack Graber, the Vice President of Exhibits and Technology at the Cosmosphere. 

Graber said a majority of the dozen consoles are currently in the Space Shuttle configuration. His team is tasked with reconfiguring them back to what they looked like during the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. He said they’re relying heavily on the Apollo 11 manual to get the job done.

“It has all the diagrams and information that we would use to reconfigure the consoles back to that era,” Graber said. “We are taking some of the new out and putting old back in.”

Graber said he and his crews also rely on a colored labeling system.

“We have a method of red, green and yellow stickers,” he said. “The green is what is era correct. The yellow is what might be era correct. It’s close, but not exact and the red is what absolutely is not supposed to be there.”

After each piece of equipment is labeled, Graber said the next step will be to order and manufacture the parts needed.

“We are able to still track down some of the original manufacturers and get the era-correct parts in, but everything else we will manufacture it from scratch,” Graber explained.

He added this is only the beginning of more than a year-long project. It’s a project Graber said he’s humbled to a part of.

“We have done a lot of stuff and I never in a million years would have imagined we would be doing something like this for Houston. It’s a real honor,” Graber said.

The restoration of the about 30 consoles will take between 12 and 14 months to complete. SpaceWorks will also restore the flooring, the walls, the wallpaper and the ceiling from the mission control room in preparation for Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary.

Many of the controllers, the guys who sat behind these consoles that are still alive are donating personal items including ash trays, jackets, headsets, books, manuals so it will look like they had just left, they were going on a break and were coming back,” Graber said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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