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  "Apollo 13": Apollo astronauts' reactions?

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Author Topic:   "Apollo 13": Apollo astronauts' reactions?
ASCAN1984
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posted 06-28-2007 04:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was just wondering if anyone knows what any of the remaining Apollo astronauts who flew to the moon thought of the movie Apollo 13. I was just watching For All Mankind today and I heard on the audio commentary Gene Cernan say he never really realised how much risks he took until he watched Apollo 13.

Naraht
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posted 06-28-2007 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The JSC Oral Histories have some good material on that subject. Ken Mattingly in particular talked quite a bit about it.

Last year I wrote a short blog entry which collected some of the comments that were made by Ken Mattingly, Jerry Bostick and John Aaron about the movie. (They also touch on the opinions of Fred Haise and Gene Kranz.) You might be interested in taking a look.

Lunatiki
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posted 06-28-2007 05:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunatiki   Click Here to Email Lunatiki     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember seeing Lovell in an interview (might of been a DVD extra) saying he was pretty much happy with everything, but he did note that the tension between Haise and Swigert in the movie, in particular the scene where Haise implies Swigert might of done something to cause the explosion, was pure fiction and never happened.

He also stated the movie made it look like the LM extraction wasn't as "dire" as it was portrayed in the movie and that he or Haise could of completed it if for some reason Swigert failed to do so.

Scott
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posted 06-28-2007 05:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lunatiki:
[Lovell] did note that the tension between Haise and Swigert in the movie, in particular the scene where Haise implies Swigert might of done something to cause the explosion, was pure fiction and never happened.
I recall that well when I saw "Apollo 13". Swigert was not alive to defend himself and those insinuations in the movie came close to ruining it for me.

Lunatiki
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posted 06-28-2007 05:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunatiki   Click Here to Email Lunatiki     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With Tom Hanks being such a fan of the Apollo program and the men involved, I don't understand why he allowed/wanted that in the movie. This has most likely been answered before, but to avoid searching hundreds of posts, I'll ask it here. Has Sy Liebergot ever discussed on the cS board how he feels about how he was portrayed in the movie?

Paul78zephyr
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posted 06-28-2007 09:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lunatiki:
Has Sy Liebergot ever discussed on the cS board how he feels about how he was portrayed in the movie?
If I recall he discussed it quite a bit in his book.

Lunatiki
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posted 06-28-2007 11:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunatiki   Click Here to Email Lunatiki     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Paul, I just ordered a copy. Can't wait to get it.

mjanovec
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posted 06-29-2007 01:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you watch the Apollo 13 DVD, you can listen to Lovell's commentary track to get his reactions to all of the scenes.

garymilgrom
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posted 06-29-2007 09:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have the DVD and never knew this. Thank you! Another example of the knowledge available here.

GoesTo11
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posted 06-29-2007 10:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On the "Apollo 13" DVD, there is a segment where actor Bill Paxton (Haise) refers to the Haise/Swigert shouting match scene and states forthrightly that "some dramatic license" was definitely taken there.

I loved the film, but like others here, I was a bit uncomfortable with the amped-up theatrics between Haise and Swigert (What? The story wasn't dramatic enough as fact?) and with the implication that Swigert's crewmates were less than confident in him. Lovell and Haise were understandably vexed by Mattingly's removal from their crew, but there was never any doubt that Swigert could do the job. Plus, as another poster stated, the fact that Swigert obviously wasn't able to address the film's portrayal of him didn't help perceptions.

uk spacefan
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posted 07-02-2007 06:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for uk spacefan   Click Here to Email uk spacefan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lovell & Haise were portrayed quite adequately in the film.Haise had come down with a kidney infection during the flight, and had to receive treatment after splashdown. Swigert was made to look like a complete screwup, which was ridiculous as he wrote the lifeboat procedures, and while it was Lovell's job as commander to oversee procedures, it was Swigert's expertise that probably saved the day.

Sy Liebergot
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posted 07-02-2007 08:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sy Liebergot   Click Here to Email Sy Liebergot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by uk spacefan:
Swigert was made to look like a complete screwup, which was ridiculous as he wrote the lifeboat procedures, and while it was Lovell's job as commander to oversee procedures, it was Swigert's expertise that probably saved the day.
Not at all true.

uk spacefan
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posted 07-02-2007 12:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for uk spacefan   Click Here to Email uk spacefan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ok Sy, I'll concede that the ground crew played a massive part in saving the men, but others have agreed that Swigert was poorly portrayed in the Apollo 13 film.

Sy Liebergot
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posted 07-02-2007 01:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sy Liebergot   Click Here to Email Sy Liebergot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by uk spacefan:
Ok Sy, I'll concede that the ground crew played a massive part in saving the men, but others have agreed that Swigert was poorly portrayed in the Apollo 13 film.
Yep, I agree here--artistic license was exercised big time on Swigert's character.

Also, Jim told me that they NEVER argued as depicted in the movie. I have to keep reminding folks that Ron Howard produced a drama, not a documentary.

PeterMart
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posted 08-05-2007 10:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for PeterMart   Click Here to Email PeterMart     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The initial question about Lovell in the thread was never fully answered...for what it's worth he is IN the movie...shaking Tom Hanks' hand on the carrier at the end...he wears a white military uniform. He was also listed in the credits as head consultant. Not sure if he liked it but as a point of fact he was involved in production and made an appearance in the final scene.

Question for Sy also...I assume Clint Burton was a major player in the intial hours of the 13 crisis. Yet he was not portrayed in the movie...obviously they did not want to go into overkill on the historical aspects...But I was wondering if Sy could lend some insight into his contributions.

davew833
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posted 08-06-2008 05:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for davew833   Click Here to Email davew833     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm new and this is my first posting, so please forgive the repetition if this topic's been covered before.

I've seen 'Apollo 13' many times, but recently it's been on cable "ad infinitum", so I've really had a chance to re-evaluate my perception of the movie. One nagging issue that struck me lately was the movie's portrayal of Jack Swigert.

I realize some tension between characters was added to increase the drama, but I think the producers seriously shortchanged Swigert by portraying him as a rookie with questionable mission skills and intellect, AND an unwelcome outsider on the mission.

It's not as if NASA grabbed a custodian mopping floors in the VAB and put him on the prime crew after Mattingly was grounded. If I'm not mistaken Swigert had a Master's Degree in aerospace, an MBA, and had written the emergency procedures for the command module.

I realize Jack Swigert was no longer with us to defend his reputation and skills, but I wonder if there was any outcry or negative reaction from his family, friends, or fellow astronauts over his portrayal in the movie. Anybody know?

alanh_7
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posted 08-08-2008 12:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I could not agree with you more. While not blaming Swigert directly as the cause, they sure seemed to do everything but blame him. They made it look like he floated around the command module unsure about what he was doing.

Correct me if I am wrong but I believe I read somewhere that Jack Swigert wrote a text book on malfunctions in command module systems. He was a expert in the CM's systems. Yet for some reason the film decided to point the finger of blame, at least indirectly and unfairly at Swigert when we all know there was nothing Swigert or anyone else likely could have done to prevent what happened. I have no idea why they went that route.

I am sure had NASA thought he was not mission qualified they would have postponed the flight. In any case I have always felt it was the single biggest flaw in that film.

Sy Liebergot
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posted 08-08-2008 06:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sy Liebergot   Click Here to Email Sy Liebergot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by PeterMart:
I assume Clint Burton was a major player in the initial hours of the 13 crisis. Yet he was not portrayed in the movie...
As those of you that have read my book and/or attended my Apollo 13 lectures, you hear me give great credit to Clint Burton, who was my relief EECOM. Together with fellow EECOM John Aaron, they struggled to make the remaining oxygen last as long as possible, i.e. keep the remaining fuel cell alive until the LM could be sufficiently powered up. FD Lunney's Black team flight controllers were truly heroic
quote:
Originally posted by alanh_7:
I read somewhere that Jack Swigert wrote a text book on malfunctions in command module systems. He was a expert in the CM's systems.
Jack did not write the CSM Malfunctions Procedures Book, which was a book of trouble shooting logic diagrams which were used in conjunction with a spacecraft systems schematic book. All the spacecraft malfunction documents and systems schematics documents were authored by the responsible systems flight controllers, such as myself.

Jack took on responsibility for crew input to the CSM malfs, which sometimes was cause for head butting. However, it was a great way to learn the spacecraft systems' operation in detail, which Jack did.

By the way, a fellow Apollo 13 EECOM pointed out to me that the Cryo O2 Malfunction procedure would have led you to a conclusion that it was an instrumentation problem. Had a good laugh over that!

I hope that this is helpful.

alanh_7
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posted 08-08-2008 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you Sy for correcting my comment. Sorry, I thought I had read somewhere Swigert had wrote an malfunctions manual of some form. Obviously you would be the one to ask.

John Charles
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posted 08-08-2008 08:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Alan, I read the same thing, and Sy corrected me when I asked him, a few years ago.

I recalled was a quote from Wally Schirra, who had Jack Swigert as the CM specialist on his Apollo 7 support crew, but I cannot find a citation.

However, I do have sort-of citation for the same comment from NASA Administrator Tom Paine, during the mission: "Jack literally wrote the book on the malfunctions and how to overcome them". My source is this untitled Apollo 13 website, which I found in Jan. 2008). Maybe Dr. Paine was repeating something he heard Schirra say.

FFrench
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posted 08-08-2008 09:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to interviews with Al Worden, he and Jack Swigert (and he gives the major credit to Swigert) were the ones assigned to Downey after the Apollo 1 fire to work on the Block II spacecraft and particularly on creating an enormous malfunction procedures manual. Naturally, this was in conjunction with many other people - engineers, technicians, etc.

The differences expressed in this thread are probably ones of emphasis, in what was a wide-ranging team effort. But probably not inaccurate to say that, of all the Apollo astronauts, Swigert was one of those most familiar with the anticipated malfuction procedures.

alanh_7
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posted 08-09-2008 08:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John and Francis thank you for your reply. I thought I had read that somewhere but cannot recall where. I know I heard it somewhere; perhaps it was Wally Schirra from a DVD documentary or somewhere from his work with CBS during the crisis. I just cannot remember. I do know I heard it many years ago, though how inaccurate the statement was I had no idea until now. Again thank you both and Sy setting the record straight.

Larry McGlynn
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posted 08-09-2008 10:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Apollo Block II malfunction procedures archive was donated to the Kansas Cosmosphere in 2000. I have seen the documents and many of the documents are in Swigert's handwriting. In talking with Charlie Duke, he said that Jack was instrumental in designing many of the malfunction procedures for the redesigned spacecraft.

FFrench
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posted 08-09-2008 11:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just came across an answer Gene Kranz gave to the query of the Apollo 13 movie's accuracy when speaking at our museum in March of 2001.
"I'd say, for a Hollywood production, it was probably about A minus. I'll tell you the things I didn't like. I didn't like the way they portrayed some of the players. They portrayed Ken Mattingly as sort of a brooder, not a member of the team once he got scrubbed. He was right on board; probably the toughest thing that he had was trying to get by me, because we were still expecting him to get measles, and I was going to put him down on the second floor! But once we had the problem onboard, any concern about the measles vanished. I didn't like the way they portrayed Mary Haise. They sort of have to have this good guy, bad guy thing, and Mary Haise was portrayed as sort of arrogant. One thing they had, and this is probably the most egregious thing, they had the Grumman contractor portrayed as unsure, not willing to commit. None of that happened. The way we solved the electrical problem was not through the simulators; it was just a pencil and paper. The engineers sat down, figured out how much power the thing provides, kept refining the numbers. We actually used the simulators to tie the procedures together. But I would say they portrayed the kinds of people and the kinds of work that is done. The controllers don't run around pulling their hair out the way they portray in the movie, but that's Hollywood! for the purpose that it had, which is also entertainment and telling a good story, I thought they did a good job."

John Charles
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posted 08-09-2008 11:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by FFrench:
Naturally, this was in conjunction with many other people - engineers, technicians, etc...

But probably not inaccurate to say that, of all the Apollo astronauts, Swigert was one of those most familiar with the anticipated malfunction procedures.


Francis, you are correct, of course.

No one person could develop procedures for a system as complex as a spacecraft. The astronaut could not do it alone, and the flight controller or engineer could not do it without the astronaut's input.

Possibly, some of the confusion stems from the fact that each Apollo-era astronaut was responsible for representing the whole astronaut office in a particular area of technical specialty, and for reporting back to the office on progress or problems in that area. It is easy to see how a short-hand could develop whereby it became "Jack's procedures" when Jack was just reporting on the procedures. (I have witnessed this phenomenon first-hand, and am sometimes guilty of it myself.) So when an astronaut writes a memoir, the short-hand is recalled and recorded for posterity.

Historians of technology remind us that no single person ever invented such complex devices as the light bulb or airplane, but that many people developed each successive innovation that finally culminated in the invention. This is true even for spacecraft procedures.

kr4mula
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posted 08-11-2008 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John's comments are exactly right. No astronaut was solely responsible for any of the areas they were assigned to or the prodcuts thereof. To suggest it is a disservice to the flight controllers and systems engineers (and contractors!) who did the hard work day in and day out.

For more interesting non-astronaut comments on the movie, John Aaron's JSC oral history should be of interest (click on the third one [26 Jan 00]).

GoesTo11
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posted 08-11-2008 01:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I live in Denver, and Swigert of course was a Colorado native so perhaps this got a bit more play here when the film came out than it did nationally...

I seem to recall some of his surviving family mildly objecting to the film's portrayal of Swigert, but not for the reasons discussed here. Rather, they were more upset with its presentation of his supposed "swingin' bachelor" lifestyle than with, in my opinion, the far more egregious suggestion that Swigert's crewmates had anything less than complete confidence in him.

Can't find a source, but that's what I recall, for what it's worth. Funny what people fixate on sometimes.

MikeN6MZ
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posted 04-13-2012 08:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MikeN6MZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was fortunate to hear Fred Haise speak a few years ago at the Museum of Flight (Seattle) and even more fortunate to spend a few minutes with him after his talk. During the lecture, he made the point that there was none of the filthy talk that the movie showed. When I was chatting with him I told him that the movie really angered me at the end when the narrator said (or implied) that Fred basically made no contribution after Apollo 13. Making the first flight of the Shuttle doesn't count for much in Hollywood I suppose.

Peter downunder
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posted 04-20-2012 07:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter downunder   Click Here to Email Peter downunder     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've seen 13 quite a few times and never felt Jack as a person/astronaut was maligned by the movie's portrayal. Where exactly was he 'a screw up'. The 'I can add!' scene? The 'what are you saying, Fred?' scene? Or maybe the simulator scene... Artistic license, without putting Jack down too much.

The scenes at the party were there to indicate he was pretty successful with the ladies. I think that has been documented in many publications.

Movies, not documentaries, as they say. When it comes right down to it, there were many more astronauts in the simulators besides Mattingly 'with the torch that only the astronauts 'have up there'. And yes, many of the controllers missed out.

My three main gripes about the movie: why they explained Shepard's crew being bumped because of 'an ear infection.' How simple would it have been to get that right. And they cut out the discussion between Faget, Slayton and Kraft straight after one of the burns. Power-down, PTC or sleep? That could have been a terrific scene.

And when Kranz has the 'I don't understand that Sy!' conversation. According to Murray and Cox the comment was in relation to the surge tank, not the reactant valves. The implications of an empty surge tank were much more disturbing than 'not landing on the moon', I would have thought.

But even with those short-comings, it's not a bad movie.

uk spacefan
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posted 04-20-2012 06:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for uk spacefan   Click Here to Email uk spacefan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The simulator scene which as I remember comes quite soon after Swigert is picked to join the crew, shows him failing at one attempt of a procedure and then implies that they would have all burned up had it been for real. The long pauses in the scene heighten the negativity around his character, and this plus other scenes e.g the slanging match with Haise just add to the 'screwup' portrayal.

On the whole the movie is very good. However, artistic license is one thing and I'm pretty sure that if Jack Swigert was alive today he would have been outraged at the portrayal of himself in the movie.

Peter downunder
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posted 04-20-2012 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter downunder   Click Here to Email Peter downunder     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the simulator scene ended with the comment 'even Mattingly didn't get that the first time'. But I shall say no more.

MikeSpace
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I'm sure others remember when the movie came out some published lists of 'errors' in the movie.

Sy said it best, it's a movie, not a docu.

We all have our scenes we shake our heads at, and go 'why was that needed, it never happened.' I just remind myself, hey, at least we *have* the movie.

I remember vividly the day I read this would actually be a movie. I was ecstatic. 'Oh, if they do this right... and for me, they did.

For the general public, before the movie Apollo 13 was not much more than an asterisk. If they knew the mission existed at all. I think the movie did a lot to remind everyone that the Apollo missions were indeed one of the most historically significant of all time, and worth remembering, and celebrating.

At the ASF Apollo 13 40th Anniversary celebration; Lovell spoke a bit about the movie's artistic license, specifically regarding Mattingly/Swigert about three minutes in here.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-12-2012 12:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In this video (posted Aug. 17, 2012), Apollo 13 visual effects supervisor Rob Legato shares David Scott's (and by way of Ron Howard, Buzz Aldrin's) reactions to the launch sequence in the movie. It turns out, Legato purposely "got it wrong" to create what people — including astronauts — remember rather than what actually occurred...

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