Next event in FHSU Sebelius Lecture Series features Apollo 13 astronauts and flight director

Apollo 13 lecture


HAYS, Kan. -- Two of the Apollo 13 astronauts and the Mission Control flight director who helped return them safely to Earth will speak about the ill-fated moon mission at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, in the FHSU Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

The event is part of the Fort Hays State University Sebelius Lecture Series. The lecture series is named for one of FHSU's most notable alumni, former U.S. Rep. Keith Sebelius.

James Lovell and Fred Haise were captain and lunar module pilot of Apollo 13 when it was launched on April 11, 1970. This was intended to be the third NASA mission to land men on the moon. Two days into the flight, during a routine maneuver, an oxygen tank on the service module exploded, crippling the spacecraft. Apollo 13 and its three-man crew were some 200,000 miles from Earth.

Gene Kranz, back at Mission Control in Houston, worked with the crew and a team of NASA engineers and astronauts to solve a series of critical problems on the craft, including limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of clean water and the need to repair the carbon dioxide removal system. Their desperate efforts were successful: Apollo 13 and crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

A generation around the world watched the drama unfold on their televisions in 1970.

Another generation learned the story in the Ron Howard film, "Apollo 13," that was released in 1995. In the film Lovell was portrayed by Tom Hanks, Haise by Bill Paxton and Kranz by Ed Harris. The film earned a Best Picture Oscar, and Harris won Best Supporting Actor. Apollo 13 remains popular on home video.

Lovell, Haise and Kranz will recount their experiences, explore the lessons of Apollo 13 and discuss the future of NASA and the U.S. space program during their visit to Fort Hays State.

Approximately 200 patrons help sponsor the Sebelius Lecture Series each year. Patrons donate $150 per person. These donations are tax deductible, less benefits received. Patrons will receive an exclusive invitation to a reception with the speaker on the day of the lecture, exclusive tickets to sit in rows A-C in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center for the lecture, and their names will be prominently placed in the event program. To become a Patron, visit and complete a ticket order form as a Patron.

About James Lovell
Lovell was born in Cleveland on March 25, 1928, and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Southern California's Aviation Safety School and the Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program. He was a Navy jet pilot before being selected to be a NASA astronaut in 1962.

He made four space flights with NASA: Gemini 6, Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8 and Apollo 13, logging 713 flight hours in space.

He retired from the Navy and NASA in 1973. In civilian life he was president of Bay-Houston Towing, Fisk Telephone Systems and executive vice president of the Centel Corp.

In 1994, Lovell and Jeff Kluger wrote "Lost Moon, the story of the Apollo 13 mission." The following year the film version of the book, Apollo 13, was released. Lovell has also appeared in several segments of Tom Hanks' From the Earth to the Moon, the HBO documentary miniseries that aired in the spring of 1998.

Today, he is president of Lovell Communications, a business devoted to disseminating information about the U.S. space program.

Lovell has earned numerous honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, two Navy Distinguished Flying Crosses, NASA Distinguished and Exceptional Service Medals and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

About Fred Haise
Haise was born Nov. 14, 1933, in Biloxi, Mississippi. He graduated with honors in aeronautical engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1959 and served as a U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot, later flying with the Ohio Air National Guard.

Haise began his 20-year NASA career in 1966, serving on the backup crew for the Apollo 8 and 11 missions before being chosen as lunar module pilot for Apollo 13.

The Apollo 13 mission was not Haise's only close brush with death. In 1973 he was involved in a crash while flying a plane during the filming of the movie Tora! Tora! Tora and was burned over 65 percent of his body. He went through 14 months of recovery and rehabilitation before he was able to fly again, but in 1977 he was chosen to fly five test missions as commander of the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

After leaving NASA Haise served as president of Northrop Grumman Technical Services, a wholly owned subsidiary company of The Northrop Grumman Corp.

His honors include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service and Special Achievement Awards, and induction into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

About Gene Kranz
Kranz was born on Aug. 17, 1933, in Toledo, Ohio, and received his B.S. degree in aeronautical engineering from Parks College of Saint Louis University in 1954. He was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force in 1954 and flew high-performance jet fighters.

Kranz joined NASA in 1960 as assistant flight director for Project Mercury. He assumed flight director duties for all Project Gemini missions and continued his duties as flight director for the Apollo program, including the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

During the Apollo 13 crisis Kranz led the "Tiger Team" that successfully guided the crippled spacecraft back to Earth.

Kranz has described working on the American space program as an ultimate frontier experience: "We were working at the ragged edge of all knowledge, all technology and all experience."

Kranz retired from NASA in March 1994. He wrote "Failure Is Not An Option" (2000), which chronicled his NASA career. The best-seller was the basis for the History Channel documentary Mission Control.

Kranz has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, NASA's Ambassador of Exploration Award, NASA's Distinguished Service and Outstanding Leadership Medals and was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame.

About Keith Sebelius
Sebelius graduated from FHSU in 1941. While at FHSU, he was one of the original Lewis Field Pioneers, made up of young men who lived on campus while working a variety of jobs to pay their tuition, room and board.

Sebelius was born in Norton. He earned a law degree and returned to Norton to practice law. He served on the city council and as mayor. He also served in the Kansas Senate. He became active in the Republican Party and ran for the U.S. House seat previously held by Bob Dole in 1968. He served for 12 years and didn't seek re-election in 1980. He died at age 66 and is buried in Norton.

His son, Gary Sebelius, is a federal magistrate judge and the husband of Kathleen Sebelius, a former Democratic Kansas governor and former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services. His son, R. Douglas Sebelius, is a Norton County attorney.

For more information about the Sebelius Lecture Series, call Vincent Bowhay at 785-628-4664 or send an email to

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