April 11, 1970 – Apollo 13 is launched from Kennedy Space Center with the crew of James A. Lovell, Jr. (CDR), John L. Swigert, Jr. (CMP) and Fred W. Haise, Jr. (LMP). The Moon landing mission was aborted during trans-lunar cruise to the Moon after an oxygen tank explosion in the Service Module. The world watched as the Moon landing was aborted, and the crew barely returned to Earth safely.
During the entire mission the crew and Mission Control were thrown many unexpected challenges. Throughout it all, they remained committed to the goal of returning the crew safely to Earth, and they remained flexible in how they achieved that goal. They also put to use one of the great lessons of the Space Race – “Have a plan.”
John Aaron was part of Mission Control that was in charge of figuring out how to power up the Apollo 13 Command Module. The Command Module had been deliberately shut down after the explosion, but was required to be up and running to support re-entry. It was a challenging task because there was very little power available in the Command Module and it had to be managed carefully.
John made an amazing observation after the Apollo 13 crew was recovered safely. He said, “Things always overwhelm you until you have a plan.”
Leadership lesson taken from Abandon in Place – the Seven Forgotten Leadership Lessons of the Space Race