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Leadership Lessons from Appollo 13

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Apollo 13; Inner Teachings

Lusalu Daniel

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The Apollo 13 is NASA’s seventh Apollo space mission taking human beings into the outer space. The launch of the Apollo 13 space craft took place at the Kennedy Space center on 11th April 1970. On the second day of the mission the service Module was crippled by an explosion of the second oxygen tank. As a result the mission was aborted and the crew working in conjunction with the astronauts back on earth maneuvered strategically to safely return on earth. The team had to overcome insurmountable hardships occasioned by loss of power and water, lack of proper food and the freezing condition inside the space ship to land successfully on earth, that the mission was dubbed a successful failure (Shayler, 2013). The Apollo 13 has been turned into a successful film and presents lots of great teachings on surviving a crisis. The following are the vital inner teachings drawn from the Apollo 13 mission.

The first lesson learned from the Apollo 13 mission is prioritizing and communication in a crisis. After the second oxygen tank exploded the priority was to return the crew safely on earth. Thus the projected lunar landing was quickly abandoned and every effort was concentrated on the safe return of the crew to the earth. Without prioritizing activities and effective communication this would not have been possible (Holden, 2012).

Training is mandatory for every mission. NASA trains its crew well. Every first crew and the support crew begin training for a mission well even before the mission plans are finalized. This makes the crew prepared for what awaits them. Without proper training the crew would have panicked and the mission ended in a disaster (Holden, 2012). It is therefore imperative that proper training is conducted for every mission planed in any given organization in order to achieve the desired results.

The last inner teaching from the Apollo 13 mission is proper risk assessment and management. in order to survive a disaster organization have to learn to identify risks well in advance and try to minimize them as well as prepare on how to deal with them in case of a crisis. NASA had identified lots of risks on its spaceships well before takeoff, and prepared for any eventuality even on issues that were not priority (Green, 2001).

The case of an oxygen tank explosion on the Apollo 13 mission brings lots of teaching to present day management of crisis. Some of the great inner teachings of this episode include prioritization of activities and effective communication, proper training for a mission and efficient risk assessment and management (Lemke, 2006). These three important lessons helped the crew of Apollo 13 escape death and can be applicable in almost any field today.


David J. Shayler, M. D. (2013). Manned Spaceflight Log II—2006–2012. Springer.

Green, M. K. (2001). Apollo 13: Teaching Notes. Hartwick Humanities in Management Institute.

Holden, H. M. (2012). Danger in Space: Surviving the Apollo 13 Disaster. Enslow Publishers, Inc.

Lemke, D. B. (2006). The Apollo 13 Mission. Capstone.

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