Wikipedia Biography:Kranz was born in Toledo, Ohio, and attended Central Catholic High School. He grew up on a farm that overlooked the Willys-Overland Jeep production plant. His father, Leo Peter Kranz, was the son of a German immigrant, and served as an Army medic during World War I. His father died in 1940, when Eugene was only seven years old. Kranz has two older sisters, Louise and Helen.
His early fascination with flight was apparent in the topic of his high school thesis, entitled "The Design and Possibilities of the Interplanetary Rocket". Following his high school graduation in 1951, Kranz went to college. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Saint Louis University's Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology in 1954, and received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, completing pilot training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas in 1955. Shortly after receiving his wings, Kranz married Marta Cadena, a daughter of Mexican immigrants who fled from Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. Kranz was sent to South Korea to fly the F-86 Sabre aircraft for patrol operations around the Korean DMZ.
After finishing his tour in Korea, Kranz left the Air Force and went to work for McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, where he assisted with the research and testing of new Surface-to-Air (SAM) and Air-to-Ground missiles for the U.S. Air Force at its Research Center at Holloman Air Force Base.
After completing the research tests at Holloman Air Force Base, Kranz left McDonnell-Douglas and joined the NASA Space Task Group, then at its Langley Research Center in Virginia. Upon joining NASA, he was assigned, by flight director Christopher C. Kraft, as a Mission Control procedures officer for the unmanned Mercury-Redstone 1 (MR-1) test (dubbed in Kranz's autobiography as the "Four-Inch Flight", due to its failure to launch).
As Procedures Officer, Kranz was put in charge of integrating Mercury Control with the Launch Control Team at Cape Canaveral, Florida, writing the "Go/NoGo" procedures that allowed missions to continue as planned or be aborted, along with serving as a sort of switchboard operator between the control center at Cape Canaveral and the agency's fourteen tracking stations and two tracking ships (via Teletype) located across the globe. Kranz performed this role for all unmanned and manned Mercury flights, including the MR-3 and MA-6 flights, which put the first Americans into space and orbit respectively.
After MA-6, he was promoted to Assistant Flight Director for the MA-7 flight of Scott Carpenter in May 1962. He continued in this role for the remaining two Mercury flights and the first three Gemini flights. With the upcoming Gemini flights, he was promoted to the Flight Director level and served his first shift, the so-called "operations shift," for the Gemini 4 mission in 1965, the first U.S. EVA and four-day flight. After Gemini, he served as a Flight Director on odd-numbered Apollo missions, including Apollos 5, 7 and 9, including the first (and only) successful unmanned test of the Lunar Module (Apollo 5). He was serving as Flight Director for Apollo 11 when the Lunar Module Eagle landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Kranz is perhaps best known for his role as lead flight director (nicknamed, "White Flight") during NASA's Apollo 13 manned Moon landing mission. Kranz's team was on duty when part of the Apollo 13 Service Module exploded and they dealt with the initial hours of the unfolding accident. His "White Team", dubbed the "Tiger Team" by the press, set the constraints for the consumption of spacecraft consumables (oxygen, electricity, and water) and controlled the three course-correction burns during the trans-Earth trajectory, as well as the power-up procedures that allowed the astronauts to land safely back on Earth in the command module. He and his team, as well as the astronauts, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their roles.
Kranz continued as a Flight Director through Apollo 17, when he worked his last shift as a flight director overseeing the mission liftoff, and then was promoted to Deputy Director of NASA Mission Operations in 1974, becoming Director in 1983. He was in Mission Control during the January 28, 1986, loss of Space Shuttle Challenger on the STS-51-L launch. He retired from NASA in 1994 after the successful STS-61 flight that repaired the optically flawed Hubble Space Telescope in 1993. In addition to having written Failure Is Not an Option, which was adapted for The History Channel in 2004, he also flies an aerobatic aircraft and serves as a flight engineer for a restored Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.