Building the new
center was the easy part. But major questions still remained.
How does one do these human space missions? How does one
design the necessary spacecraft? How does one manage the
contractors and garner the best ideas and results from
The recovered Gemini V spacecraft is
delivered back to the NASA facility at Cape Kennedy,
Florida, following the successful third human Gemini
mission in August of
strength of JSC has been and continues to be its
engineering-based nucleus. From Mercury and Apollo to today's
space station, the Engineering Directorate and myriad U.S.
contractor teams have played a major role in the design and
development of spacecraft-a role that continues to this day.
This engineering effort-the design and development of
spacecraft-came before the selection of astronauts and the
development of the Mission Control Center.
This view of the Earth-orbiting Gemini VII
spacecraft was taken from the Gemini VI spacecraft
during their historic rendezvous mission in
to Houston," said Maxime Faget, chief engineer, MSC. "We had
to build a center. All of the engineering facilities, they all
had to be specified, worked out, negotiated, and an
organization had to be built up. It was a pretty yeasty time.
We went from essentially a one-man project, [Mercury], a
one-program project, to really trying to do three things at
the same time, three programs at once plus build up the
addition to the Engineering Directorate, the program office
played a major role in managing contracts and implementing
contractors. These major entities-the Engineering Directorate,
the program office and, soon, the flight controllers and
operators-did not operate in a vacuum; the integrated strength
of all of these organizations was crucial in achieving NASA's
and the nation's grand human space flight objectives. This
process was true for the MSC in the early days of human space
flight; it still holds true today.