Mission Control
The Unsung Heroes of Apollo 13


During five tension-filled days in the spring of 1970, the crew of Apollo 13; Commander Jim Lovell, Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise and Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert, struggled to survive in a crippled, nearly uninhabitable ‘Odyssey’ Command Module. They were on their way to the Moon, on what was scheduled to be America’s third lunar landing, following the successful landings of Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 in 1969.

But during a routine maintenance procedure, a disastrous oxygen tank explosion not only canceled Apollo 13’s plans of landing on the Moon, but the very survival of the crew became uncertain. Short on power, heat, water and breathable air, their odds of making it home were very low indeed.

However, a determined team on the ground in Houston of flight directors, engineers and support staff in Mission Control – the true unsung heroes of Apollo 13 – was able to perform ingenious engineering miracles to keep the crew alive, and through the crew’s own skilled actions, Apollo 13 was able to safely return to Earth.

The subject of a critically-acclaimed 1995 blockbuster film starring Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris, Apollo 13 resonates with space enthusiasts and non-space enthusiasts alike because of the triumphant nature of its story and the teamwork displayed during one of NASA’s finest hours.

In recognition of this feat, the San Diego Air & Space Museum will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 13 mission on April 11, exactly 50 years to the date of its launch with a star-studded list of famous figures from NASA’s legendary Apollo program. Flight Directors Gerry Griffin, Glynn Lunney and Milt Windler have all confirmed for the event. The list of invited guests also includes many other luminaries from the Apollo program, including astronauts from the back up crews from Apollo 13 who served as Capsule Communicators (CAPCOMS) during Apollo 13 and who later traveled to space during their own missions.

The flight directors and astronauts each have unique and spellbinding stories to tell, and when they talk to an audience as a group, they often share tales they never tell alone. Guests at the Apollo 13 50th Anniversary Celebration at the San Diego Air & Space Museum will gain a first-hand, intimate insight into how the best-of-the-best worked together under the most arduous conditions… taking risk to a new level.

“On Saturday, April 11 we will honor the Apollo 13 mission and the American manned space program, events in history which truly demonstrated failure was never an option in space,” Jim Kidrick, President & CEO of the San Diego Air & Space Museum shared with GB Magazine. “This is the opportunity for those attending to retrace the many successes, and sometimes tragedies, which accompanied the acceptance of President Kennedy’s challenge to land on the Moon within a decade. This very special evening recounts firsthand the true saga of ingenuity, risk and triumph from America’s heroes. There is no better time than this, during our continued 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Apollo program, to bring so many history makers together in one location… right here in San Diego.”

For more information and to purchase tickets to this once-in-a-lifetime event, visit www.sandiegoairandspace.org.


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Kamran Saeed