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Hutchinson To Hollywood: Locally Created Movie Props Make Big Screen Debut

A Hutchinson company helped set the scene in the new movie “First Man.”

The film tells the story of astronaut Neil Armstrong and NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon.

Scenes from the mission control room feature consoles from the Cosmosphere museum in Hutchinson. A team with the museum’s SpaceWorks divisionrefurbished 13 consoles for the movie.

“It was real neat to see them go to this type of a movie about the space race, and what the movie represents," says Jack Graber, SpaceWorks vice president of exhibits and technology. "It was really exciting to see them being highlighted that way."

The Cosmosphere previously purchased and acquired the consoles from Johnson Space Center in Houston where flight controllers directed the historic moon landings. The consoles came from a back support room, not the famous main control room used during the Apollo missions.

It took Graber and three local craftsmen about seven months to get the consoles ready for the movie. Graber says Universal Studios wanted to be able to light up buttons on the consoles as they needed, and put their own imagery on the screens.

“You spend enough time with them that you get a little jaded looking at them, and then you see them lit up on the big screen, and you’re like, 'Hey, those are ours!'" Graber says. "And that’s pretty cool."

“First Man” is the second movie to use the restored mission control room consoles. Graber says before the Universal Studios project, the consoles were used in another, as-yet-unreleased Hollywood movie. 

The consoles are expected to be returned to the Cosmosphere in February.

Copyright 2020 KMUW | NPR for Wichita. To see more, visit KMUW | NPR for Wichita.

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.
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