It was 46 years ago today, April 13th of 1970, that Apollo 13 was on its ill-fated mission to the moon. The ship was some 200,000 miles from Earth hurtling through the dark and cold vastness of space, when mission controller Sy Liebergot saw a low pressure warning light on an Odyssey hydrogen tank. He made a routine request to stir the oxygen tank and that’s when those frightening words came over the intercom in the control room. Houston, we’ve had a problem.” That was an understatement.

A spark from an exposed wire in an oxygen tank caused a fire and an explosion which brought on potentially catastrophic problems including a critical loss of power. The crews aboard Apollo 13 and on Earth worked feverishly as they abandoned their mission to the moon and focused instead on getting the crew back to Earth, alive. It was an almost impossible task with the lives of three brave astronauts in the balance. The pressure was on as they considered the major hurdles that stood in their way. That’s when the best of our best, focused on getting the job done, exemplified in this scene below from Apollo 13 with Ed Harris.

Leah Sherman via YouTube

Because “Failure is not an option.” they worked the problem, they didn’t give up. They made it back to earth, alive. Apollo 13 turned out to be very lucky for astronauts Swigert, Mattingly and Lovell, heroes in the rich history of The United States Of America. Wyoming made it's contributions too.

Movieclips via YouTube

Casper, Wyoming native Bill Stoval played a critical role in regulating and supervising the return trajectory on the actual Apollo13 and was even honored by NASA with their prestigious Superior Achievement Award.

The amazing H. David “Dave” Reed earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from The University of Wyoming in 1964. Then he went to work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration / NASA,

“becoming a mission controller responsible for tracking and trajectory dynamics. In this capacity he was the Flight Dynamics Officer for Apollo Flights 5 and 9, 11, 12, 13 and 14. He was the prime flight dynamics officer for Apollo 13 and was a joint recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom as a result of his contributions in the safe return of the crew.

The Apollo 14 crew named a crater on the moon for Dave in recognition of his many contributions to the Apollo program.”

 

This is a nation so great that foreigners want to become citizens here. Hollywood movie Producer and Assistant Producer Bruce Moriarity worked on the Apollo 13 movie in 1995. He got his US citizenship in Casper, Wyoming in 2015.

There are just three Wyomingites who have made a big contribution to the movie and the mission, that still inspires me to this day.

“I believe this will be our finest hour.”