In January 1967, astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee died in a cabin fire during a launch rehearsal for AS-204 (later named Apollo 1). Produced by the Houston-based A-V Corporation for NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), this government film details some of the findings of the 204 Accident Review Board and the corrective steps taken to ensure the safety of the Apollo spacecraft, most of which are described by the astronauts who will be flying aboard Apollo 7. The progress report next surveys the various Apollo simulators—many of which were located at the MSC in Houston—used to train the Apollo 7 crew. Simulators featured here include those for the Command and Lunar Modules, as well as the launch simulator, target and docking simulator, water immersion facility, partial gravity simulator, and mission procedures simulator. We also get a look at the state-of-the-art computer technology used to run the simulators and the communications, command, and telemetry systems. We round out this progress report with a tour of the MSC's newly completed Lunar Receiving Laboratory, including an explanation of the quarantining procedures for returning astronauts and lunar samples.
As the scope of the American space program grew, NASA's Space Task Group realized it would need to expand into its own facility if it were to successfully land a man on the Moon. In 1961, the agency's selection team chose a 1,000-acre cow pasture in Houston, Texas, as the proposed center's location site, owing to its access to water transport and commercial jet service, moderate climate, and proximity to Rice University. In September 1963, the facility opened as the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC).
The Center became the focal point of NASA's manned spaceflight program, developing spacecraft for Projects Gemini and Apollo, selecting and training astronauts, and operating the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. Beginning with Gemini 4 in June 1965, MSC's Mission Control Center also took over flight control duties from the Mercury Control Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As a result, the facility managed all subsequent manned space missions, including those related to Projects Gemini and Apollo, the Apollo Applications Program, the Space Shuttle Orbiters, and the International Space Station.
In 1973, the MSC was renamed in honor of the late President and Texas native Lyndon B. Johnson. (As Senate Majority Leader, Johnson sponsored the 1958 legislation that established NASA.) The Center continues to lead NASA's efforts in space exploration, training both American and international astronauts, managing missions to and from the International Space Station, and operating scientific and medical research programs.