NASA Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Apollo 13, ‘A Successful Failure’
On April 11, 1970, Apollo 13 astronauts lifted off for a quick trip to the moon. The itinerary for the trip was the third moonwalk. But a failure changed the plans and history had another story in mind for Apollo 13.
I was approaching my 20th birthday. I was drafted in December 1969. Eight weeks of basic training at Fort Campbell Kentucky and I was on my way to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for another 8 weeks of training as a medic.
Information during the sixteen weeks of training was scarce and I don’t recall anything about the events of Apollo 13. Actually, I wasn’t exposed to very much information during my two years in the Army.
So I don’t remember the events during this period of American history.
Now, fifty years later, during another historical event where the word FAILURE is front and center in the flow of American history, we celebrate one of the greatest triumphs over FAILURE in American history.
The safe return of the crew of Apollo 13.
Fifty years ago this month, the world held its breath — hoping, praying and wishing for a miracle that would spare the lives of a crew stranded in the most hostile and remote of conditions. Aboard a ruptured spacecraft, a three-man crew once bound for the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon found themselves in an epic race to survive against every conceivable obstacle imaginable.
Fifty years later, the world holds its breath again, hoping, praying and wishing for a miracle to spare lives across our planet, attacked by an invisible force delivering disruption, heartbreak and severe economic costs. While a world of differences exists between the Apollo 13 mission and today’s coronavirus pandemic, there are powerful leadership lessons from that experience that can guide us forward. Most important: We must learn to think and act differently.
50 Years on – how Apollo 13’s near disastrous mission is relevant today
When an oxygen tank blew during the 1970 Nasa moonshot, the successful rescue mission was thanks to Nasa organisation, not improvisation
That mission was crippled by an explosion while en route to the moon and nearly 200,000 miles from Earth. The story was popularised in 1995 in a Hollywood film starring Tom Hanks, but I knew that there was much more behind the narrative than the movie had managed to tell. So for the new series of the podcast I wanted to get under the skin of the thing and focus not just on the crew who flew the mission, but also on those who saved it – the incredible team of flight controllers who worked round the clock in shifts for 87 hours.