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Space

50 years after moon landing, Mission Control is painstakingly recreated

NASA's Apollo-era Mission Control has been restored to the way it looked when two men landed on the moon.

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Image: Mission Control in Houston

Then...

Flight controllers at NASA's Mission Operations Control Room at the Johnson Space Center in Houston celebrate the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission on July 24, 1969.

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Now...

Original flight control consoles and binders at the newly restored Apollo Mission Control Room on June 28.

Project Apollo's Mission Operations Control Room has been meticulously recreated down to the tan carpeting, gray-green wallpaper, white ceiling panels, woven-cushion seats, amber glass ashtrays and retro coffee cups. 

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RC Cola

A 1960s-era can of Royal Crown cola. 

Intent on authenticity, restorers scoured eBay and vintage shops for ashtrays and cups and turned to 3D-laser printing to recreate lids for the back-of-the-seat ashtrays in the glassed-in visitors' section overlooking the control room. Old binders for reams of paper were collected. Seat cushions were handwoven. Ceiling tiles were hand stamped.

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Then...

A television monitor at Mission Control on July 20, 1969 shows astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on the surface of the moon.

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The goal was "to capture the look and feel of July of '69," said NASA's restoration project manager, Jim Thornton.

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Image: The newly-renovated mission control center at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Webster, Texas.

Cigarette haze gone, cigarette packs remain

A crumpled pack of cigarettes lies in an ashtray at the restored Mission Control.

Todd Spoth / The New York Times via Redux Pictures
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Casual disarray

Modern LED lights and flat screens were installed to bring the consoles alive with images and flashing buttons. 

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Then...

Flight director Eugene F. Kranz sits at the flight director console during a simulation in April 1965 prior to the Gemini-Titan 4 mission. The mission was the first to be partially controlled from the Houston site.

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Now...

Gene Kranz on July 17, 2019 as he sits at the console where he worked as flight director during the Gemini and Apollo missions. 

Kranz pointed out that the air vents used to be black from all the cigarette smoke, not sparkly clean like they are now.

With all the empty seats, the room reminds him of a shift change when flight controllers would hit the restroom.

"When I sit down here and I'm in the chair at the console ... I hear these words, 'Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed,'" Kranz said during a sneak preview of the restored control room at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

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An audience views the recreation of the moon landing inside the newly restored Mission Control.

The room was last used for space shuttle flights in the 1990s, then abandoned and opened to tourists.

The restoration effort finally got traction in 2017. The room was closed, and construction began. More than $5 million was raised, most of it donations. 

It reopened to the public on Monday, July 1. 

Text by AP and NBC News. 

Photos: The 12 men who walked on the moon

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