SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

Apollo 11 flight director to moon landing naysayers: 'Do you think we could have fooled the Russians?'

With only 17 seconds of fuel remaining, Gene Kranz helped successfully land Apollo 11 on the lunar surface 50 years ago. Thursday, he was at Purdue University.

Posted: Jul 19, 2019 11:28 AM
Updated: Jul 19, 2019 11:34 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — With only 17 seconds of fuel remaining, Gene Kranz helped successfully land Apollo 11 on the lunar surface 50 years ago. Thursday, he was at Purdue University recalling those moments to a sold out crowd, just two days before the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing.

Kranz worked at NASA for 37 years and also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role in safely landing Apollo 13.

So what does he think about those who deny it ever even happened?

"Do you think we could have fooled the Russians? Or the media? No! Everybody says the American flag is waving. They ought to have a shower curtain out there and see how the shower curtain ripples. I mean it's just, they're pulling your chain."

Krantz said in Mission Control, everyone was a leader. He said the Apollo 11 team in space, and on the ground, was one team. The goal never wavered; they wanted to put a man on the moon and make sure it had an American flag on it.

As the man sitting in the most important seat in Houston that day, Kranz knew he had to stay calm. He said the only thing the Apollo 11 command staff didn't train for was the reactions people would have when the module touched down.

"They erupted into cheering and stomping right on down the line, clapping," said Kranz of the people looking into Mission Control. "You could hear the sound coming through the double glass windows there, and my team has to be cool as a cucumber. Because we have a job to do. We have to make sure it's safe to stay. For the next two hours we never cracked a smile. My frustration is that I wish we could do it all over and only join the rest of the world at the time we touched-down."

Purdue alum Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969. Kranz said Armstrong was always ready for the next step of the mission.

"He always reminded me as a very thoughtful individual, very quiet professional, college professor. Very seldom raised a voice, and he always wanted to think things over before he'd say 'yes' or 'no.'"

Kranz described the lack of lunar attention in recent years as "bitter." However, he's optimistic about the future of space travel, and knows humans can return to the moon.

"I'm going to be gone by then," Kranz joked about the next 50 years. "I want an environment where nations work together. I think if you can do that, you will find colonies in space. You will find people building infrastructure in the United States you can ship up there, live in, habitat in, grow in, maybe even raise families in." 

Kranz expects Purdue to be a part of that. He has a granddaughter studying at the university right now.

"We don't send people to universities we don't believe in."

Kranz said the moon landing was remarkable, if you look at the 60s in today's context. 

"The civil rights movement was beginning, you had the environmental movement beginning, you had the Peace Corps," Kranz listed off. "People were off their couches marching for what they believed. People were doing things. I think today the greatest challenge is to get people out of their comfort zone to sign up to do risky work."

He said his people learned very quickly that there was no gray room in for the Apollo 11 mission.

"It's always black or white. Go or no go. Stay or no stay."

West Lafayette
Broken Clouds
41° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 37°
Kokomo
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 39°
Rensselaer
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 41°
Fowler
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 41°
Williamsport
Broken Clouds
41° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 37°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
38° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 38°
Frankfort
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 41°
Delphi
Overcast
39° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 39°
Monticello
Overcast
39° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 39°
Logansport
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 37°
Clouds Build Sunday Ahead Of Snow
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 329008

Reported Deaths: 5663
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion44793862
Lake28485466
Allen19005303
Elkhart17828233
St. Joseph17409235
Hamilton13830170
Vanderburgh10166127
Tippecanoe907430
Porter865088
Johnson6866169
Hendricks6516158
Vigo634791
Monroe555550
Clark536278
Madison5335122
Delaware5130103
LaPorte486297
Kosciusko477541
Howard370378
Bartholomew340965
Warrick340173
Floyd332578
Wayne332384
Marshall314946
Cass306331
Grant290350
Hancock279357
Noble267047
Henry259037
Boone258855
Dubois247732
Dearborn233631
Jackson230634
Morgan226443
Gibson198229
Knox195221
Shelby194957
Clinton186822
DeKalb186733
Lawrence186049
Wabash175222
Adams173823
Miami173817
Daviess164945
Fayette155434
Steuben155115
Jasper153613
Montgomery152129
Harrison149924
LaGrange149331
Ripley148019
Whitley144315
Huntington136310
Decatur135643
Putnam133428
White133422
Wells132330
Clay130924
Randolph130321
Jefferson127016
Posey126918
Scott118021
Greene108553
Sullivan104416
Jay103314
Starke96124
Jennings93214
Spencer8998
Fulton87819
Perry86121
Fountain8288
Washington8267
Franklin74027
Carroll72913
Orange71028
Vermillion6777
Owen6528
Tipton61127
Parke6086
Newton57912
Rush5768
Blackford57112
Pike53720
Pulaski43415
Martin3776
Benton3703
Brown3645
Crawford3141
Union2822
Switzerland2705
Warren2583
Ohio2417
Unassigned0269

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events