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Critical Analysis On Apollo 13 Project Management


Task: Provide an in-depth and critical analysis on Apollo 13 project management.


The present study of Apollo 13 project management investigates the theory and practice of developing, managing and leading people in the context of project management. The people management in a project or organisation is the management of human resources according to their performance and activities. The human resource is contributing a lot to achieve the desired goals or objective of the organisation. For managing the people every organisation need to unlock the potential of the employees which will help the organisation to increase the productivity rate of the organisation. For this particular assignment, the researcher will be going to study about the people management skills followed in Apollo 13 project management. After watching the movie “Apollo 13” the researcher needs to find out how they had managed their people for creating a successful space program. The Apollo 13 spaceship had been launched from KSC Kennedy Space Centre on April 11, 1970. The main problem had been raised in the mission was when the crew members had aborted the lunar landing because the oxygen tank had failed to provide the allocated service module for about two days. Another significant failure in Apollo 13 was the power cut which had caused due to an accidental ignition in one of the service module that had damaged the wire insulation. Due to this particular accident, some of the oxygen required breathing had been lost, and there was no electric power in the lunar module. The total command module of Apollo 13 had to be shut down to conserve the energy resource. With this strategy, the crew members had to use the power in command module strategically for entering back to the earth the lunar module needs to be transferred as the lifeboat because it has no power inside. Apollo 13 will provide an excellent example of people management because the command control had played a significant role to provide different strategies to the crew members so that they could return earth safely.

Understanding of the topic
The story of movie Apollo 13 starts on home of Jim Lovell where all the members of Apollo 13 gathered for watching the moonwalk by Apollo 11’s astronauts. From the scenario of Apollo 13 project management, it could be seen that Jim had contemplated about the journey to the moon. One of the crew members in Apollo 13 named Jim had informed that he was being suffered from ear-infection before the mission had been started. Jim had surprised crew and press where they declare that his mission will be final (, 2019). The Flight surgeon had revealed that one of the members present in the backup crew was suffering from severe measles. The crew who was suffering from Measles will create a significant threat to the relative primary crew because they could be exposed to space travel. Flight surgeon suggested to the crew member named Ken Mattingly who was suffering from measles could create a severe risk of being sick during the Apollo 13 mission.

 Ken Mattingly needs to be replaced with their backup named Jack Swigert who would participate during Apollo 13 project management mission if the health of Ken deteriorates badly. The whole crew had continued to train inside the simulator with Swigert whenever the team finds out a backup crew member. However, the crew members were not at all confident with the new member’s piloting skills that were being acquired by Jack because piloting skills of Ken is much better than the new members (, 2019). The Apollo 13 project management mission had become one of the most challenging and defying adventures in history because three of the crew members named Fred Haise, Jack Swigert and Jim Lovell had found themselves rocketing around the orbit of moon in the form of joined vehicles which are command module and lunar module. Each joined vehicles consists of the interior space of the Volkswagen Beetle, which does not have any power or heat. However, after the accident or explosion occurred it could be found that the oxygen tank present in the service module no. 2 had been damaged.

For this reason, the main tank had failed to supply the total amount of oxygen and the power for landing the space station to the moon. Total three men present in the spaceship had to abort the landing in moon because with low power and oxygen they will not be able to survive for long in space (Allday, 2019). The lunar module was being attached to land over the lunar surface, and after the completion of mission the lunar module needs to return the primary vehicle with the help of command module so that three crew members can return to earth.

A critical examination of the topic in the context of Apollo 13 project management
 The Apollo 13 was being designed for three members in the command module, and two crew members were only being designed to travel moon using lunar module. However, after the damage of secure module it had created one of the most challenging tasks where all the ground controllers had faced in Houston because they had to write out new procedures and tested the simulator regularly to make sure three crew members return safely. The crew members had to take guidance from the ground controllers to correct the overall course after the explosion of Apollo 13. Both Haise and Lovell had switched on LM’s engine, which had never been used for navigational burn which had created great chaos in the service module (Tobler, 2019).

 The LM’s engine had been used as the navigational alignment so that spaceship had been aligned with the sun. The alignment with the sun had been done for about a total 5 degrees. Within 73 hours and 46 minutes of the mission, the ground transcript and command control had described that Lovell had able to justify the use of LMS engine and the reason the damage had occurred. Three of the crew members were nervous and shaken when they were writing reports because the oxygen was less and power was not at all available in one of the module. Aligning the platform with the sun was one of the essential tasks that need to be done by astronauts to reduce any accidents in the space (Gioia, 2019). The flying had been initiated under critical condition because Haise and Lovell are using equipment's which are not at all being designed for aligning the spaceship with sun because both Haise and Lovell were using the equipment without using any proper food. The study of Apollo 13 project management also signifies that due to the accident in service module, the crew members could not able to heat anything and the whole crew had skipped their meals as the power had not being generated.

The total temperature of the spacecraft had been dropped for about 38 degrees Fahrenheit because majority of the electrical system had been turned off where condensation had been formed all over the walls. For this reason the three crew members was not able sleep due to very low temperature in Apollo 13. One of the remarkable achievements for controlling mission was quickly developing in the given procedures to power up CM after long cold sleep. The controllers of the flight had written the space document to create innovation in total three days than using it for total three months (Plescia et al., 2016). Using the procedures provided in the equipment, both Lovell and Swigert had able to power up their command module to make the spaceship Apollo 13 had been splashed safely in Pacific in the year 1970.

 The Apollo 13 project management was a significant failure because prime objective of the project had never been fulfilled due to the failure of equipment because they had landed to the moon. However, in one way the Apollo 13 mission was successful because the ground team were working hard in NASA who had able to pull together the best teamwork for saving the three crew who were facing trouble in the spaceship due to lack of power, oxygen and heat (Taylor, 2016). In Apollo 13 project management mission, control team had come up with numerous ideas and strategies to save crew members of project Apollo 13. The ground members had suggested to switch off the lunar module so that the command module has enough power for the crew members to reach the land safely.

Lesson of leadership
 All the space control members of NASA was not at all worried about the failure of mission Apollo13, and their main concern was saving their crew members under any circumstances. The main objective of the crew members after the accident is to create plan and strategy within the given time limit after initial explosion. Even the ground team members of NASA were dedicated to resolving the issues or problems faced by the crew members after the explosion of the service module (Cortright, 2019).

For this particular scenario of Apollo 13 project management, training will not provide the best results because none of the crew members does know that this type of accidents would occur in spaceship before their mission and it was not being explained during their training period. Running simulations or training exercise will not train the crew members to fight against the accidents that could occur inside the spaceship or vehicle. The crew members need to be trained under these given circumstances like what they will do if there are any accidents in the spaceship-like exploding of the oxygen tank, fire inside the spaceship or any significant and fatal damage that could risk all the crew members who are travelling to the moon (Dawson, 2017). The crew members need to have a robust risk management skillset so that they could able to manage any problem or accidents that could arise inside the spaceship.

Hardship provided by the crew members of the Apollo 13 mission
One of the crew member named Lovell, who is attractive, neat, brave and funny is one of the crucial space pilots in NASA. Lovell had finally landed the capsule in the ocean, and the whole crew members survived even if the Apollo 13 mission had failed. The ground control team h in April 1970 had struggled a lot to help the three crew members to return safely on planet earth because they were nervous and scared when the oxygen tank had exploded in the middle of the space (Agouridis and Sanderson, 2016).

In the context of Apollo 13 project management, it can be stated that Jack Swigert had helped the crew members to explore the main goals of Apollo 13 by using a level headed thinking and perseverance when they were under a catastrophic emergency inside the space. The explosion inside Apollo 13 was being accompanied by the fluctuations in the electric power of the spaceship that had made difficult for the pilot to control the thrusters of the spaceship (Doyle, 2017).

 The crew member had found out that total of two fuel cell tanks of oxygen had been exploded, and Teflon insulation had been damaged. The fuel cells had been used in the command service module to combine the hydrogen and oxygen using electrical power. The electrical power was not at all being supplied due to the damage in the service module. The crew members after getting guidance from the ground members form a great idea that they had to abort the landing mission of lunar. After the abortion the crew members were being forced to shut off the lunar module for saving the total battery power for entry of the astronauts (Jones, 2018).

 Haise and Swigert had done an excellent job for putting spacecraft aligned with sun so that they could reach earth at faster rate. The lunar gravity had created a boost under the spaceship of Apollo 13 which had helped the crew members to reach earth with more speed. The crew members had considerable support from the ground control to control spaceship against any ingenuity. The crew members and ground team had finally able to overcome the main challenges faced due to low power, limited water and lack in different consumables. NASA had tried their best to develop an innovative solution which had improved agency capabilities and had dealt the unexpected event occurred in Apollo 13 project management.

 The primary availability of the lithium hydroxide is used for the removal of CO2 or carbon dioxide from the lunar module air, which had been damaged due to the accidents. The total stock in lunar module of LiOH canisters was not at all sufficient to support three-person during a four-day return. The principal chief of the crew system division had made their team together for figuring out the hardware of the spaceship in the lunar and command modules. In the CM module canisters, the cylindrical canister sockets had been attached in the lunar module by drawing out the air using space suit hose to help the crew to breathe in open space (Westwood, O'Leary & Donaldson, 2017). In spite the amount of hardship that had occurred due to the limitation of the power, loss in total heat of the cabin and improvising the removal of carbon dioxide three of the crews had returned earth safely.

What are the benefits gained from Apollo 13 project management mission?
 During the Apollo 13 mission, the flight was a significant failure because the crew members were not able to land on moon. However, it gained success for getting the three crew members and ground team together to provide solutions so that they could reach the earth safely (Krasnozhon & Maye, 2019). The mission control team and ground team had played the most vital role to provide suggestions to the crew members so that they could able to survive in the spaceship before they reach the earth as the temperature is shallow, no power and no food.

Apollo 13 was one of the third attempts for the lunar landing, but the mission had been aborted after the explosion of the service module because the oxygen supply had been reduced. Apart from the three crew members, the ground controllers had faced a huge formidable task and had completed procedures by testing the ideas inside the simulator (Lu, 2018). The problem present in the navigation and parts of the spaceship needs to be solved for reducing accident the LM descent engine at right time for making all the crew members return home safely.

Both Lovell and Haise had floated through the tunnel that had left Swigert for performing the final chores using the CM module. The ground controllers had worked out the procedures more carefully by examining the CM batteries, which were being additionally charged by the LM power.

From an overall analysis of the study of Apollo 13 project management, it could be found out that the control members and ground team had done an excellent job for guiding the three crew members to reach earth. About 20 per cent of the power was left for the crew members to survive well. The crew were both hungry and dehydrated during whole journey as the power is low but able to survive due to the support they had gained from the ground members. It was a great challenging for both the ground team and the controlled members to help the three members to reach earth safely. Sleep among the crew members was impossible for them due to shallow temperature as the heating system had been switched off due to less power. One of the best achievements in this particular mission of Apollo 13 project management was developing different procedures to power up the command module due to power shortage. The flight controllers had written a document for the innovation process which is total three days which had increased the chances of crew members survival.

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Jones, H. W. (2018). Apollo 13 project management NASA’s Understanding of Risk in Apollo and Shuttle. In 2018 AIAA SPACE and Astronautics Forum and Exposition (p. 5235). Retrieved at :

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Plescia, J. B., Robinson, M. S., Wagner, R., & Baldridge, R. (2016). Ranger and Apollo S-IVB spacecraft impact craters. Planetary and Space Science, 124, 15-35. Retrieved at :

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Westwood, L., O'Leary, B. L., & Donaldson, M. W. (2017). The final mission: preserving NASA's Apollo sites. Apollo 13 project management University Press of Florida. Retrieved at :

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