Today is the 43rd anniversary of the day one of the oxygen tanks on Apollo 13 exploded. Popularized in the Ron Howard film Apollo 13, the mission quickly changed from the third moon landing to one of the greatest success stories of NASA. Commander Jim Lovell realized "The odds were very small that we’re going to get out of this alive," but Lead Flight Director Gene Kranz vowed "We will never surrender. We will never give up a crew." Gene Kranz had been a flight director when Apollo 1 caught fire on the launch pad, killing astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. As a result of that, NASA commissioned a document that Gene Krantz wrote called “Foundations of Mission Control.” Reprinted below are those foundations.
Foundations of Mission Control
To Instill within ourselves these qualities essential for professional excellence:
- Discipline- Being able to follow as well as lead, knowing that we must master ourselves before we can master our task.
- Competence- There being no substitute for total preparation and complete dedication, for space will not tolerate the careless or indifferent.
- Confidence- Believing in ourselves as well as others, knowing that we must master fear an hesitation before we can succeed.
- Responsibility- Realizing that it cannot be shifted to others, for it belongs to each of us; we must answer for what we do, or fail to do.
- Toughness- Taking a stand when we must; to try again, and again, even it means following a more difficult path.
- Teamwork- Respecting and utilizing the ability of others, realizing that we work toward a common goal, for success depends on the efforts of all.
To always be aware that suddenly and unexpectedly we may find ourselves in a role where our performance has ultimate consequences.
To recognize that the greatest error is not to have tried and failed, but that in trying, we did not give it our best effort.
Apollo 13 ultimately returned home, the combined efforts of hundreds utilizing ingenuity, the science of the time, and embodying the principles of the “Foundations of Mission Control.”
Disclaimer: The above "Foundations of Mission Control" are reprinted for educational purposes and are probably the copyright of Gene Kranz and/or NASA.