Apollo center fundraiser: That's one small check from man, one giant leap for our peace of mind

Everyone else did the 'Houston, we have a problem' headline

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An online fundraising campaign is asking for $250,000 to cover the costs of preserving and maintaining a historic control room used for NASA's Apollo missions.

A Kickstarter drive launched by Space Center Houston is hoping to drum up the quarter of a million bucks by August 19. It is part of a larger $5m restoration effort to keep the mission control room at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in pristine condition and open to the public.

The control center was home to the boffins who coordinated and managed the Apollo missions, including the historic Apollo 11 moon landings and the Apollo 13 near-disaster.

In short, this is the Houston from "Houston, we have a problem."

The control center, located in building 30 of the Johnson Space Center campus, includes the mission control center, two support rooms, a projector room, and a viewing area. Since 1985, it has been open to the public and is on the US National Register of Historic Places.

"Unlimited visitor access and declining budgets have taken a toll on this much-revered site. The result is that the condition of the Historic Mission Control has deteriorated to the point that the National Park Service listed it as 'threatened' in 2015," the Kickstarter page explains. "With the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 approaching in 2019, restoration of Historic Mission Control is now urgent, and a crowd of supporters is gathering."

The fundraiser is part of a larger effort between Space Center Houston, former crew members of the facility, and the nearby town of Webster to raise money for the preservation of the site. The city itself has already kicked in $3.1m to cover much of the cost, and going forward has promised to match donations of up to $400,000.

As with most Kickstarters, Space Center Houston is sweetening the deal by offering "gifts" for those who donate. The prizes range from a NASA logo sticker for a $15 donation to a commemorative T-shirt at $35 to a meeting with flight director Gene Kranz for those who kick in $10,000.

So far, things are looking very optimistic for the group. With 25 days left in the campaign, over $182,000 of the $250,000 has been pledged. ®


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