Apollo 11’s launch, as seen by the only woman in the control room

JoAnn Morgan was just 17 years old when she worked on her first rocket launch. 

It was the spring of 1958, and Morgan had just graduated high school in Florida, just a few miles from the Space Coast. Keen to find a summer internship, Morgan saw an advertisement from the Army Ballistic Missile Agency looking for students to work in the missile firing lab.

NASA wouldn’t officially open its doors until October that year (in accordance with a presidential order signed by Dwight Eisenhower), but the Soviet Union had just launched Sputnik 1 and the United States was playing catch-up. The Army was testing rocket systems to launch its first satellite, and it was short on labor. Morgan applied and got the job.

A week after she graduated, she was working at her first launch. 

“It was awesome,” she told me. “I just got rocket fuel in my blood right

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