us manned space program

St. Louis Aerospace Community Welcomes Legendary NASA Apollo Program Flight Director Gene Kranz

Members of the St. Louis aerospace community welcomed legendary NASA Apollo Program Flight Director Gene Kranz at a dinner reception this evening at the Moonrise Hotel in the Delmar Loop.  The dinner was held in honor of Gene Kranz and his wife Marta, and included guests Lowell and Bobette Grissom and representatives from the St. Louis Rocketry Association, St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis University parks College, St. Louis Space Frontier, St. Louis Challenger Learning Center, Missouri Space Grant Consortium, Missouri Coalition for Math and Science, Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum and the Bonne Terre Space Museum.  Gene Kranze will make appearances at several events to encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, culminating with a public event this Saturday at the St. Louis Science Center.

NASA photo

Gene Kranz has past connections to the St. Louis area.  He obtained his aeronautical engineering degree from Parks College and worked on several projects for McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in the mid 1950s.  He joined NASA in 1960 in the Flight Control Operations Branch, and served in ever more responsible roles through the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs.  He is probably best known as the Lead Flight Director during the Apollo 13 mission, living up to the motto, ”Failure is not an Option,” and donning a white vest that has become a symbol of his role in the space race.  During tonight’s dinner reception, Gene Kranz was given a white vest with patches representing the sponsors of his visit to St. Louis this week.  The Aero Experience Founder Carmelo Turdo, representing his role on the Board of Directors of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, was one of the guests.  Here are some views of the festivities:

Gene Kranz (left) with David Kovar of the St. Louis Rocketry
Association and his wife Marta Kranz
Gene Kranz (left) with Joe Edwards, developer of the
Delmar Loop area of St. Louis

 

A donation to Gene Kranz’s favorite charity, Habitat for Humanity,
was presented during the dinner reception

 

David Kovar of the St. Louis Rocketry Association with his scale
model of the Apollo Saturn V rocket