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The NASA Manned Spacecraft Center: A National Resource

Hardin-Simmons University Library

Sound | 1960s

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  •  The purpose and operations of the Manned Spacecraft Center 
  •  The structural organization of MSC 
  •  Selection and training of astronauts 
  •  A closer look at various engineering and development programs 
  •  Tour of the Space Simulation Laboratory 
  •  Designing the Apollo spacecraft 
  •  Inside the Mission Control Center 
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Starting with shots of 1960s Houston and Clear Lake, this government film introduces us to the work carried out at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), now known as the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the film first explains how the agency operates and the role MSC plays in Project Apollo as well as future NASA program. Through a guided tour of the facility that we are unlikely to get today, we then learn about the structural organization of MSC and how the Center prepares equipment and trains astronauts for spaceflight. This objective is accomplished with a thorough explanation of the functions of administration, flight crew operations (including astronaut training), engineering development (the design and testing of various manned space craft components), and flight operations (mission control).
As the scope of the American space program grew, NASA’s Space Task Group realized it would need to expand into its own facility if it were to successfully land a man on the Moon. In 1961, the agency’s selection team chose a 1,000-acre cow pasture in Houston, Texas, as the proposed center’s location site, owing to its access to water transport and commercial jet service, moderate climate, and proximity to Rice University. In September 1963, the facility opened as the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC). 
The Center became the focal point of NASA’s manned spaceflight program, developing spacecraft for Projects Gemini and Apollo, selecting and training astronauts, and operating the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. Beginning with Gemini 4 in June 1965, MSC’s Mission Control Center also took over flight control duties from the Mercury Control Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As a result, the facility managed all subsequent manned space missions, including those related to Projects Gemini and Apollo, the Apollo Applications Program, the Space Shuttle Orbiters, and the International Space Station.
In 1973, the MSC was renamed in honor of the late President and Texas native Lyndon B. Johnson. (As Senate Majority Leader, Johnson sponsored the 1958 legislation that established NASA.) The Center continues to lead NASA’s efforts in space exploration, training both American and international astronauts, managing missions to and from the International Space Station, and operating scientific and medical research programs.