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Hampton History Museum

Posted on: January 29, 2024 | Last Modified on: February 1, 2024

“Chris Kraft: Hampton’s Unlikely Space Hero” - Opens February 29!


New Exhibit! “Chris Kraft: Hampton’s Unlikely Space Hero”
Members-Only Reception Wednesday, February 28, 5:30—7 pm
Public Opening Thursday, February 29

February 28, 2024 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Hampton native Christopher Columbus Kraft, Jr. On this occasion, the Hampton History Museum will open an exhibit celebrating his life and accomplishments as a preeminent NASA scientist.

Chris Kraft was born in Phoebus, Virginia (now part of Hampton) into the family of well- known businesswoman Clara Albright, his grandmother. He attended Hampton High School and Virginia Polytechnical Institute before joining the staff of Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in his home town in 1945. In 1958, Kraft was assigned to the NACA Space Task Group and tasked with developing a system of manned space flight – putting a man in space and bringing him safely home. Kraft was a central figure in projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.  He lead the development the ground operations control system for the new agency, NASA which became famous as “Mission Control”.   Kraft became the Fight Director, responsible for all of the flight components of the missions whether near Earth or in space.  Ultimately, he became director of Johnson Space Center until his 1982 retirement.

Sadly, we lost Chris Kraft in 2019.  However, his family honored the Hampton History Museum by donating a collection of personal memorabilia that Kraft saved through his life as Phoebus and Hampton native son, and his career at NASA Langley Research Center and beyond.   The Hampton History Museum exhibit will tell of his legacy as a Hamptonian, highly regarded engineer at NASA Langley Research Center, and his central role in the manned space flight program. It will feature this previously unseen collection as well as other artifacts from his family.   To add to the unique nature of this exhibit, it will feature a significant collection of previously unseen images taken by Kraft’s contemporary, NASA documentary photographer Bill Taub.

The Hampton History Museum is located at 120 Old Hampton Lane in Downtown Hampton. There is free parking in the garage across the street from the museum. for more information call 757-727-1102.

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