Fred Haise and Gene Kranz of NASA’s Apollo 13 Mission Address Sold-Out Crowd of Space Enthusiasts

| Published: April 05, 2016

Fred Haise and Gene Kranz of NASA’s Apollo 13 Mission Address Sold-Out Crowd of Space Enthusiasts

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Astronaut Fred Haise and legendary NASA Flight Control Director Gene Kranz engaged a sold-out crowd of space enthusiasts as they discussed the events, which led to them joining NASA, as well as their experiences in the space program and beyond.

An audience of 1,200 gathered at the Performing Arts Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi for the Spring 2016 Distinguished Speaker Series held today (Tuesday, April 5).

As these legends presented their speech, “Apollo 13: A Successful Failure,” they brought to life a lesson of success from failure about the 1970 ill-fated lunar mission. The pair do not consider themselves heroes and said teamwork was critical when facing impossible odds.

“The world is populated with heroes,” said Kranz. “Everything is about working as a team. Nothing is a solo enterprise.”

Kranz also spoke on his most humbling lesson about being a leader to new flight directors and controllers. 

“Always be aware that you may be suddenly and unexpectedly come into a situation where your decisions have grave consequences,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Haise and Kranz addressed elementary, middle, high school and college students during a free Student Forum.

“I’m very excited to see Haise and Kranz because I want to work for NASA in the future,” said Kobi West, a TAMU-CC atmospheric sciences major. “It’s great to expose students to people who will inspire them to chase greatness.”

Haise began his NASA career as an aeronautical research pilot at Lewis Research Center in 1959. He served as backup crew for the Apollo 8, 11 and 16 missions and flew as the lunar module pilot on the aborted Apollo 13 mission. Haise also flew five flights as the Commander of the Space Shuttle Enterprise in 1977.

Kranz joined the NASA Space Task Group at Langley, Va., in 1960 and was assigned as Assistant Flight Director for Project Mercury. He served as Flight Director for the Apollo Program, and led the “Tiger Team” for the safe return of the Apollo 13 crew back to Earth. Kranz is also the author of the New York Times best-selling book, “Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond.”

Kranz and Haise were portrayed by actors Ed Harris and Bill Paxton in the blockbuster film, “Apollo 13.” Both men received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1970.

 “This is surely an experience my students won’t forget,” said Brenda Aldridge, third grade teacher at the Early Childhood Development Center. “Events like this spark an interest and motivation (for students) to look into science.”

Maya Mollick, a third grader in Aldridge’s class, will carry this experience with her.

“I’m really excited because I’ve never met an astronaut before,” she said. “This is almost too good to be true!”

At the close of the evening program, American Theoretical Physicist and String Theorist Dr. Brian Greene, was announced as the next Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Distinguished Speaker Series speaker on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016.

Each spring and fall, the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Distinguished Speaker Series brings accomplished national and international speakers to campus to provide insight, provoke thought, and stimulate conversation about the country’s most compelling issues. Past speakers include Scientist, Inventor and Emmy Award-winning Television Host Bill Nye, “Animal Planet” Host and Leading Conservationist Jeff Corwin and Astrophysicist and Science Communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Sponsors of this Distinguished Speaker Series include Convergent Broadcasting, Corpus Christi-Caller Times, KRIS Communications, La Palmera, Cooper Outdoor, Whataburger, M&G Chemical, Flint Hills Resources, LLC, V Boutique Hotel, AEP, Texas and Pizza State.

To learn more about Fred Haise and Gene Kranz, click here. Sign up to learn more about our Distinguished Speaker Series; or how to join our Patron Society for pre-purchase ticket opportunities for these events at