Range Tracking

Mercury Control Center

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It is hard to believe but it has been over 50 years since John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in a tiny Mercury capsule. So much has happened since then. One of the big changes is in how manned space missions are controlled. For all the Project Mercury missions and the first Project Gemini mission, a small Mission Control Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station watched over the orbiting astronauts. Today that role is filled by the sprawling Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where the astronauts also train for their missions. The original Mercury Control Center no longer exists at the Cape. What can be viewed today at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a recreation of the room with the original equipment from the actual Mercury Control Center. A sure sign of how much things have changed is seeing the ashtrays at the different work stations.

View more images, including John Glenn’s launch site, from my tours of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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