Tuesday, September 27, 2016

“Houston, we’ve had a problem”

Midland College Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series presents
Apollo 13 Astronaut Captain James Lovell

TONIGHT, 7:30 p.m.
Al G. Langford Chaparral Center
Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

By Rebecca Bell
Dean of Community Relations & Special Events

Courtesy Photo
Tonight, Midland College (MC) welcomes James Lovell, the legendary captain of the 1970 Apollo 13 space mission. Captain Lovell’s presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Al G. Langford Chaparral Center on the main MC campus, 3600 N. Garfield in Midland. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Thanks to a generous endowment established by the Davidson Family Charitable Foundation, the event is FREE.

In an instant, the Apollo 13 spacecraft pivoted from a moon-bound landing unit to a crippled vessel. While the spaceflight stands today as a demonstration of NASA innovation saving lives on the fly, Apollo 13 vividly illustrated the dangers of people working in space.

At the time, Lovell, 42, was the world's most traveled astronaut. He had three missions and 572 spaceflight hours of experience. Lovell participated in Apollo 8, the first mission to circle the moon, and flew two Gemini missions — including a 14-day endurance run.

During the Apollo 13 mission, wires were exposed in the oxygen tank through a combination of manufacturing and testing errors before flight. On the evening of April 13, 1970, a spark from an exposed wire in the oxygen tank caused a fire, ripping apart one oxygen tank and damaging another inside the spacecraft. Although Apollo 13's design problems left a mark on NASA's reputation, today it also stands as a shining example of how NASA solved life threatening problems in space, thanks in large part to Lovell’s leadership.

In 1995, the Apollo 13 mission was chronicled in a Ron Howard movie starring Tom Hanks who portrayed Lovell. Lovell also appeared in several segments of Tom Hanks’ From the Earth to the Moon, the acclaimed HBO documentary miniseries that aired in the spring of 1998. In 2015, Lovell received the Neil Armstrong Outstanding Achievement Award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Hearkening back to the incredible early days of space exploration and the Apollo program, Lovell applies the “time when we did bold things in space to achieve leadership,” proving that even during challenging times, innovation and new heights of leadership can be attained and “failure is not an option.”

Twice a year, the Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series, Midland College Foundation and Friends of the Series present speakers whose civic leadership, academic accomplishments and/or public achievements interest, enrich and enlighten Midland students and citizens. These lectures are FREE to the public.

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