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Apollo 8: Part 2

Season 1Episode 77Feb 1, 2019

Vanessa Wyche, Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center, leads a panel discussion with key players of the Apollo program to learn critical lessons that can be applied to NASA’s future human spaceflight missions to the Moon and Mars. HWHAP Episode 77.

Apollo 8 Part 2

“Houston We Have a Podcast” is the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center, the home of human spaceflight, stationed in Houston, Texas. We bring space right to you! On this podcast, you’ll learn from some of the brightest minds of America’s space agency as they discuss topics in engineering, science, technology and more. You’ll hear firsthand from astronauts what it’s like to launch atop a rocket, live in space and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. And you’ll listen in to the more human side of space as our guests tell stories of behind-the-scenes moments never heard before.

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Vanessa Wyche, deputy director of the Johnson Space Center, leads a panel discussion with key players of the Apollo program to learn critical lessons that can be applied to NASA’s future human spaceflight missions to the Moon and Mars. This episode was recorded on November 1, 2018.

Houston, we have a podcast


Gary Jordan: Houston, we have a podcast. Welcome to the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center, Episode 77, Apollo 8, part 2. I’m Gary Jordan and I’ll be just introducing you today. If you’re familiar with us, this is where we bring in scientists, engineers, and astronauts, all to let you know the coolest stuff about what’s going on right here at NASA. So on today’s episode, we’re doing something a little different. Something special in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8. You’ll notice that this is Part 2. For Part 1, we had the resident historian Dr. Jennifer Ross-Nazzal of the Johnson Space Center in the studio to take us back 50 years on the Golden Anniversary of the Apollo 8 launch. We discussed details on the mission itself and even brought in some interviews with some of the astronauts of that flight. Today, we’re moving out of the studio and onto the stage to bring you some of the legends behind Apollo 8. We had a panel discussion hosted here at the Johnson Space Center for our workforce. And today we’re bringing that discussion to you, just trying something a little different this time.

The event occurred on November 1, 2018. It was moderated by Venessa Wyche, the current Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center. Seated next to her on the stage were Apollo astronauts Walt Cunningham, the Apollo 7 lunar module pilot, Glynn Lunney, flight director for Apollo 7 and 8, Gerry Griffin, Apollo 7 flight director and former director of the Johnson Space Center from ’82 to ’86, and Ginger Kerrick, the current Chief of the Flight Integration Division and a former flight director. Wyche posed several questions to these legends to get some insight into what made these historic flights successful and how we can apply these successes to our future endeavors. So continuing our celebration of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8 and the historic achievements of the Apollo program, we bring this special presentation on Houston, We Have a Podcast. Enjoy.

[ Music ]

Vanessa Wyche: It is my pleasure to introduce the panel and then to moderate. These are folks that have illustrious careers. It’s going to take a little time to go through the introductions. But, please, applause after each one as I go. So first we have Colonel Walter “Walt” Cunningham. Walt has 45 years of diversified management experience, accumulated at the highest levels during separate careers in private industry, government service, and the U.S. military with notable achievements in each. He was a United States Marine Corp Colonel and fighter pilot. He was a NASA astronaut and program manager. He was Apollo 7 astronaut and lunar module pilot. His private sector career included venture capital, real estate, off-shore pipeline, and consulting engineering industries, chief executive, and senior operating positions. A few of his many awards include a NASA exceptional service medal, distinguished service medal, a medal of valor, American Legion 1975, and he was named to Houston Hall of Fame and International Space Hall of Fame.

Walt Cunningham.

[ Applause ] So next I’m going to introduce Mr. Gerry Griffin. Mr. Griffin is the former director of NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. His career included senior positions in government and industry. At NASA, in addition to his position as director, he also served as Deputy Director of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Drive and Flight Research Center in California. Mr. Griffin also held a post of Associate Administrator for External Relations and Assistant Administrator for Legislative Affairs at NASA headquarters. During NASA’s Apollo program, Mr. Griffin was a flight director in Mission Control and served in this capacity for all of the Apollo crewed missions. He was lead flight director for three lunar landing missions, Apollo 12, 15, and 17. During the flight of Apollo 13, Mr. Griffin was scheduled to lead the lunar landing team in Mission Control.

When the landing was canceled after the oxygen tank explosion, he led one of the teams of flight controllers who were responsible for the safe return of the astronauts. Mr. Griffin was a technical advisor for the movies Apollo 13, Contact, and Deep Impact. In the private sector, he held senior engineering posts with Lockheed and General Dynamics. Mr. Griffin was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Houston Chamber of Commerce and he is currently a technical and management consultant for Korn Ferry International.

Mr. Griffin.

[ Applause ] So next up is Mr. Glynn Lunney. Mr. Lunney joined the Space Task Group in 1958 as his vast aerospace experience supporting the Mercury, Gemini, the Apollo Program, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, as well as, NASA head of the Space Shuttle Program. He was head of the Mission Logic and computer hardware section of Flight Operations division, where he was responsible for establishing requirements in the new mission control center. His NASA career included titles like Chief of the Flight Dynamics Branch at the Flight Control Division, Chief of the Flight Director’s Office, a role he assumed throughout most of the Apollo Lunar Program, Apollo 7 and 8 flight director, and worked on Apollo 10, 11, 12, 13, and 15. He was recognized for orchestrating the return of Apollo 13, U.S. Manager of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, Manager of the Space Shuttle Payload Integration and Development program.

At NASA headquarters he was Deputy Associate Administrator for space flight and acting Associate Administrator for space transportation operations, Manager of the National Space Transportation System program where he oversaw all space shuttle vehicle systems, engineering, design, and integration. When he retired from NASA he began work for Rockwell International, a prime contractor for all space shuttle operations, as Vice President and Program Manager for U.S. in Houston and support of NASA’s space flight operations contract.

Mr. Glynn Lunney.

[ Applause ] And rounding out our panel is our very own Ms. Ginger Kerrick. Ms. Kerrick has 25-plus years of NASA experience starting as a NASA intern and co-op. She has held a number of positions in support of the operations of the Space Shuttle, Space Station, commercial crew, and exploration programs. A few of her NASA career highlights include, she began her NASA career as a materials research engineer in the safety reliability and quality assurance directorate. She has trained astronauts as a life support systems instructor. She helped the ISS expedition crew train in the U.S. and Russia, as a Russian integration instructor and supported operations for mission control Moscow as a crew support engineer, helping enable humans to continually occupy the Space Station since October 31 of 2000, which 18 years of continuous humans on orbit.

In 2001, she became the first non-astronaut ISS capsule communicator in Mission Control. In 2005, she became NASA’s first female Hispanic flight director. She supported numerous ISS and Shuttle crews, including lead assignments for expedition 14 and STS 126. Since 2011, she has held titles such as Deputy Manager of the EVA Office, Flight Director Office Assistant to the Chief for ISS, ISS Manager of Mission Operations Directorate, and Assistant Director for ISS in FOD. Since August of 2016, Ms. Kerrick has been Division Chief for FOD’s Flight Integration Division, which focuses on FOD’s participation in hardware and software testing for developmental programs, assessing the operational safety of NASA’s crewed missions. She oversees crew and flight controller training and reestablishing the ground and aviation support required for our upcoming U.S. based launch, landing, and recovery operations.

Ms. Ginger Kerrick.

[ Applause ] So with that, the introduction of the panel, we’re going to dive into some questions. And so first we’re going to start with questions around history of Apollo 7 and 8. So for Glynn, Gerry, or Walt. On Apollo 7, Apollo 7 was the first crewed Apollo spacecraft to fly after the tragic Apollo 1 fire. What was said to convince Congress, the President, and the American people, we should keep flying humans in space? What was done to convince them that it would be okay for us to go?

Gerry Griffin: Are we hot? Yes. I’ll take a crack at it. You know, we were blessed with bold leadership in the country during this period. We were at the height — pretty much the height of the Cold War and there was a race going on with the Soviets. And I think one of the things — the legacies of Apollo was the fact that both sides of the aisle worked together, the White House, the different agencies. We had great support from DOD. In fact, we probably couldn’t have flown Apollo without DOD, all kinds of support from them. So I think it was — the answer to the question, it was a perfect storm that had come together. And when Kennedy put us on to the goal, we were going for it. And I think with the fire, it was a huge setback. But only 22, 23 months later, we launched Walt’s flight. And I think what Walt said in the video is exactly right. Had 7 not worked, even an abort where the crew had gotten out okay, there’s real doubt that the program would have gone on. So I think 7 was the absolute standard that we had to get past. Glynn was the lead flight director on that flight and you may want to say something about 7 because I think it was a great mission and so important.

Glynn Lunney: Yes, it was and first one out of the chute, it was exciting. I would like to recognize Walt, though, because it took a lot of courage to get on board the ship. We just had the fire almost two years before that. And no small amount of courage had to be measured to get the crew. And it went fine. I was proud of you Walt. Thank you.

Vanessa Wyche: So Walt. What was done to convince you, Walt, that the vehicle was going to be safe?

Walt Cunningham: Well, first let me ask you this. I see a pretty good size crowd out here. Can I see the hands of those who had a personal involvement back in the 1960s when we went to the moon? Pretty good group of people.

[ Applause ] I’ll try to be careful and not lie. [ Laughter ] Most people today do not realize just how difficult it was to even get air born the first time. Because originally Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele and I, we were on Apollo 2. And the Apollo 2 spacecraft was exactly like the Apollo 1 spacecraft. And finally — North American Rockwell, who was a contractor, finally we had our crews out there working with North American Rockwell. They weren’t used to it because they had so many successful aircraft that they’d launched. And they were used to being in charge, not paying any attention to the guys that were going to be using it. And we were making inputs that was delaying the schedule, a lot. I can remember — boy, that was a long time ago. But who was our director at the time? I mean, a manager here at the Space Center here? It was Gilruth, yes. Because I can remember, North American complaining and saying, the schedule is slipping because the astronauts they keep bringing up a point. And so schedule is slipping. And Gilruth came back and replied and he says — says, that’s okay we’re not charging you for their time. [Laughter]. But what happened is we were on Apollo 2. The schedule was slipping so badly and after we’d been on that crew for seven or eight months, they canceled Apollo 2. And then we became the backup crew — about two weeks later, backup crew on Apollo 1. And that’s because we were training on exactly the same kind of spacecraft and we were aware of the plusses and minuses about that. And three months after that the Apollo 1 crew died in a fire on the pad. It was a test without being — the hatch closed, we’d done the night before. So it was — basically it was a screw up that got them to the point where they ended up doing that. But a couple of weeks later then we were assigned to the first crew, which was the first one which is called Apollo 7. So most people don’t realize the development in the history you’ve got to go through to get to this point. And Apollo 7 was, as I think I mentioned in there, the most successful first test flight of any new flying machine ever. And one of the reasons that it was safer for us, we were well aware of a lot of the risks, and there were some places in there where we, oh, I guess, totaled over the whole mission, we had about 8 or 10 minutes where we were aware that our necks were sticking out– But one of the reasons that it was reduced as much as that, is because these guys here, the flight directors, all of the support that was going on down here, that was supporting things that we couldn’t even have access to on board the spacecraft at that time. And I’ll give you credit for saving us — our lives, a little bit here. [Laughter].

Gerry Griffin: Right.

Walt Cunningham: Yes. We’ve known each other a long time.

Vanessa Wyche: Well, for Ginger, what is NASA doing to ensure the safety of the new crew vehicles being developed by SpaceX and Boeing for commercial crew program?

Ginger Kerrick: Well, we’re partnering with our commercial partners. There are a lot of measures we’re putting in place. One of the things is you start with basic requirements. So we have safety requirements. We have human rating requirements. And those requirements are built on the history of the programs that we’re talking about today. So we lay those out for them and we give them a little bit of flexibility to come up with different ways of meeting those requirements. Because that’s how we move forward. That’s how we get innovative. In addition to those requirements, we also have a safety process. Each provider is responsible for identifying all of the hazards that could impact the crew, from the moment they set foot in the vehicle, on the launch pad, to the time that they safely return. And then those hazards, they identify, well, what are we doing to protect the crew against these hazards? Is it a design? We’re building it in the design? Is it something we’re going to provide extra verification testing for? Or is it an operational control? So we jointly work with our partners to identify the appropriate measures to address those hazards.

And thirdly, in addition to anything documented in the requirements, we work with them to come up with things that we think will increase the chance for crew survivability. You know, as you’ve seen with the recent Soyuz accident — Soyuz abort scenario, that abort system worked great. We — are there other things that we can do for the commercial providers? What if they have an emergency undocking from ISS and they don’t land where we’re expecting them to land? Do we want them equipped with additional radios? Things on top of the baseline requirements that can make sure our crews return safely.

Vanessa Wyche: Okay. So let’s go back to Walt. So Walt, the Apollo 7 mission objectors were to demonstrate the command in service module with crew performance, demonstrate mission support facilities, the performance during crewed missions, demonstrate Apollo rendezvous capability, and to demonstrate a live TV broadcast from space. What was it like firing up the service module engines for the first time?

Walt Cunningham: Well, it’s interesting question you ask there. But I always think back to the Gemini program, which was about two years of flights immediately before the Apollo program. [Coughs]. Excuse me. And when Gemini program started, we were basically behind the Russians. You need to understand that the motivation back in those days was to beat the Russians to the moon. There were a variety of reasons to do that. But it — from our perspective it was a wonderful motivation to be able to do it. The Russians had already been flying by the time that the Gemini flight was done. They had gone extra vehicular activity, rendezvous, docking. We had moved ahead of the Russians operationally. And to this day we’re still, in my opinion, much better qualified than the Russians, even though we’re now totally dependent and having to pay them, I think, $80 million to get a ride up to the space station.

But in those days, when Apollo 7 flew we were busy trying to demonstrate — not demonstrate. Busy to utilize what procedures we’d come up with and to make it safe, really, to go to the moon. Because no big deal just going around the earth, actually. And today, when you talk about the Apollo program, people out there rarely know or say anything about Apollo 7 or Apollo 9, because those two missions, while they were important for the program, they were all operationally right here in earth orbit. And all the others went out to the moon. And that’s about the only way they can think about it. But even so, they’ll think about Apollo 11 and maybe Apollo 8, Apollo 13, which didn’t make it, maybe even Apollo 17. But that’s about it when it comes to the Apollo program looking back these days. So the way I look at it, the Apollo 7 had a very critical role.

We, at the time, we didn’t make any bigger deal out of it. Even those big of a deal, I hear people today making out of it. We were all fighter pilots, one test pilot on there. And we were oriented towards surviving under strange circumstances because rightly or wrongly we felt we were capable of handling almost everything. And the few things we couldn’t handle, we were aware of. So in the entire 11-day mission of Apollo 7, I would say, there might have been 8 or 10 minutes when we were kind of a little tense about what might happen.

Vanessa Wyche: What were those 8 or 10 minutes that you were a little tense?

Walt Cunningham: I can’t tell you the 8 or 10 minutes. But I’ll tell you for example, when you want to fire your reentry fire on the engine, yes, you want to make sure that that happens. And so, you may be a little bit concerned — a little bit. Several other things that you might do when turning on some of the equipment, even during launch, there’s a — we were not as excited as people like to think about or as like they show in the movies. But we were concerned if we had to abort, that we were able to make it back. And so there was like 10 minutes for launch to get us into orbit. And there was just a couple of very brief things that happened during the mission. For example, separating the launch escape tower. I think that was two minutes into that. And that was important that that be gone. But did we find ourselves sweating it out? I have to tell you, no. And I can’t speak for other crews but I can tell you for our crew, we expected that to happen and I think we held our breath for maybe two or three seconds and gone.

Vanessa Wyche: Awesome. So for Glynn, Gerry, or Walt, during Apollo 7 when both AC buses dropped out of the spacecraft’s electrical system, coincident with automatic cycles of the cryogenic oxygen tank fans and heaters, how did the crew and mission control work as a team to resolve that issue?

Glynn Lunney: We agreed coming in that Gerry would answer that. [Laugher].

Gerry Griffin: And I was able to answer it by going into the Apollo 7 mission report brushing up on what happened. And some of you remember, in the — with the cryogenic oxygen and hydrogen, actually, you had to stir them up every once in a while, because they got stratified in zero G. And you wanted to make sure it was homogenous as you could make it so that it could be turned into a gaseous form and used. What happened was, we had on both those heaters and oxygen tank 1 and 2 we had — I’m sorry. Not the heaters. The fans. We had an auto position. And what had happened was that the two tanks came on at the same time, the fans did. And it knocked the AC bus offline because it was overloaded.

It had overloaded them, the two of them together. And it was easy to detect because they got a caution and warning on board. We could see it on the ground. To fix it, what — almost immediately the guys suspected the front room you — something. They could see what happened. The guys in the back room, in the control center, and then the guys in the MER, the mission evaluation room, and I’m sure the contractors, which we had a great network of capability said, you know, there’s another way to do that and that’s just turn them off. And when you want to stir, just stir one at a time by going manually on. That’s what we did for the rest of the flight. It never happened again. And as a matter of fact, that’s what we did for the rest of the program. And we — in fact, it was, if you recall, on Apollo 13, when the oxygen tank exploded is when they told the crew to stir the cryos.

And they hit the switch and the tank exploded. It brings up a point that I think is really important. The astronauts, the guys in mission control got a lot of the coverage in our flights. We were kind of the — at the point of the sphere that had to talk and so forth. But Apollo was, and Walter would know, as one of the marshal guys said, it was about team work. And we had this amazing team of people that — and it started clear back in the planning for the thing with — I can see Ken Young out here in mission planning. And then the execution of it. We had this vast network that we could call on. And that’s going to be important for you guys in the future, to build that team work and make sure that it is part of your DNA.

It’s just the way we thought. We never thought of it any other way. We very seldom, except for a few astronauts, we very seldom heard the pronoun I. It was almost always we. We did this, or we are going to do that. And I’m just kidding, Walt, about some astronauts. [Laughter]. But the other thing we did, and then I’m going to shut up, and this is hard. It’s harder for you to do than it was for us. We pushed decisions down to the lowest level possible. We had decisions made with the people that knew what they were talking about and we didn’t elevate decisions up to a higher level, particularly to headquarters. We just didn’t go that high. And they were happy with that. They were happy to let us do our thing. So I think the teamwork, keep those decisions down where the people really know what they’re talking about making them and you’re going to be great.

It worked for us.

Vanessa Wyche: Walt, did you want to add to that?

Walt Cunningham: Yes. What he said about having the decisions made as low as you could to get away with it. Believe me, that was a normal behavior for us down there and it enabled us to keep moving things forward. As we’ve been outside — I’ll speak for myself. As I’ve been outside and I watch NASA’s operations, now they’ve been moving up decisions. You’ve got to get higher and higher to make some of these decisions. And that’s not betting on the capability of the people down here at the bottom. So I think it was good in those days. Believe me.

Vanessa Wyche: So Ginger, on the journey to Mars, you know, we won’t have the — always the direct calm between the control team and Orion. What is NASA doing now to help us to be able to communicate when we are in those phases?

Ginger Kerrick: It’s a great question. So for communications for the Space Station, the Shuttle, and even on the moon, if we wanted to schedule a satellite, we could schedule a satellite. We had less coverage on the moon than we do basically 24/7 for ISS. But the calm delay is very minimal. Very minimal on Space Station, very minimal on Shuttle, and on the order of seconds for our lunar missions. But for our Mars missions, they are going to be upwards of 30 minutes for the calm delay. So you need to make sure that the vehicle that you’re designing is as autonomous as it can be, both for the nominal operations and for any off-nominal operation that you can think of. You want to program that into the computer system and that is exactly what we’re doing for Orion. We have some automated sequences that will kick off for some of the nominal events and for the handful of nominal events that we can think of. But as of — if you’ve worked here for any length of time you realize that you don’t always think of everything. So that’s where we turn to the crew. And we’re going to need to make sure that the crew is trained to a level of depth where they can assess scenarios that are occurring, but we also need to make sure that we equip them with good reference material.

I don’t know how to repair my washing machine but I can You Tube it and figure out how to do that. So if we can create a You Tube type of training environment for our crew members on board, so they can respond to scenarios when they are faced with a situation where they cannot have that immediate calm with Mission Control.

Vanessa Wyche: Okay. So for Glynn, can you give us examples of lessons you learned on Apollo 7 that you applied on Apollo 8 to make it more successful?

Glynn Lunney: That’s a good question. I would have to say, though, by the time we got to Apollo 7, we’d done 10 flights in Gemini and there weren’t any real surprises in Apollo 7 to speak of. The experience we had in Gemini was the real bedrock that we were working from. And the bedrock that we used for the first couple of Apollo flights until we got used to that. And I would say, one of the things — or you asked me earlier about how did we know we were ready? We had a fellow named Frank Borman, astronaut, who was out at the plant while we were fixing the spacecraft after the fire. And at some point, in the process, he was called to Washington to talk about it.

And there was a lot of buzz about well, maybe we ought to not continue flying Apollos. And anyway, Frank went there to testify what had been done. And at the end of his testimony he said something like, “We’ve told you all that we have done. We need to tell you that we’re confident, we’re ready to go. And the big question is, are you ready to go?” And they didn’t answer, exactly. But the answer came soon enough. And they were ready. And it was a wonderful thing to see, challenging the next level up, the Congress, as to whether they were ready to go like we were.

Vanessa Wyche: Thank you. So for Glynn or Gerry. The mission objectives for Apollo 8 included a coordinated performance of the crew, the command and service module, and the support facilities. The mission also was to demonstrate translunar injection, CSM navigation, communications in midcourse corrections, consumable assessment, and passive thermal control. What mission control objectives had to be completed to give the crew the go for translunar injection in order for us to head to the moon for the first time?

Gerry Griffin: Did you get that go?

Glynn Lunney: Yeah — oh no I didn’t

Gerry Griffin: Yeah I think it was Charlesworth. It was Cliff Charlesworth. Well, 7 proved the command in service module. We — they rung that thing out and did so many tests that we were all really comfortable with the spacecraft. What we weren’t so comfortable with was the booster because the test mission right before it, it was a mess. We had Pogo in the first stage. We had a fuel line break in the second, I think. And then didn’t get a restart on the S4B, which was the third stage. Now you talk about a gutsy call for 8. They started testing at Marshall and come in with fixes to those three big problems. And through testing convinced the program managers that they were fixed.

So here we go to the moon the first time on a Saturn — the first time with humans on top of it, and we sent them to the moon. And the mission before, the Saturn really had big issues. So it was a very, very gutsy call and I think all of us — as soon as we got into orbit, I think we felt pretty confident from then on that TLI and we knew the command service module was with us for later injection and then coming home. So I think we — I was comfortable with 8 once the decision was made to get it on — to put those guys on top of it, that first time after 502, which was a disaster.

Walt Cunningham: Well, it’s interesting. Some of the things that the public is not aware of because it isn’t in kind of the public record about it but originally Apollo 8 was essentially the same kind of test mission as we had on 7 except they were going to be going out I think 8,000 feet — 8,000 feet — 8,000 miles away from the earth to do it. But that decision was an administrative decision that was worked on, had a lot of debating going on back and forth, but they started training Apollo 8 to do that about 8 or 10 weeks, about 8 weeks before we flew. And so they were trained up to do it but they could not get approvals to do that unless we had that test flight. So two weeks after we flew, people think that that’s when they dreamed up to send Apollo 8 to the moon. No, they were trained in doing that for a long time and after we were successful is when they committed to go out and do it.

Gerry Griffin: That’s funny. Because I remember, Glynn, I don’t know when you got right into 8, but I was a flight director with Glynn on 7. I didn’t know we were going to go to the moon until after we splashed down on 7.

Glynn Lunney: I didn’t know either. And I was walking out of the control center when the flight — the Apollo 7 flight was over, and Cliff Charlesworth sidled up to me and says, I have to tell you what we’re going to do next. [Laughter]. And he did. My first reaction was, we can’t do that. We’re not ready and rrr, rrr, rrr. But that was a typical reaction that everybody had because it was a new thought for people. But when we thought about it for a while, we had to go into lunar orbit sooner or later. So why not now? What are we waiting for? And there wasn’t any answer to what are we waiting for, except that it was a big step. And I have to say that Apollo 8 — following Apollo 7 and Apollo 8, it was like we were on a slide downhill to get to the lunar manning missing. That we flew a flight — earth to orbit exercise and everything. We had to exercise. And then we flew a flight into lunar orbit doing the same thing. And by that time, we were ready to call for a landing.

Walt Cunningham: I thought you guys knew all about that because for about five or six weeks before we flew, we were aware that it was kind of critical for the —

Glynn Lunney: Why you didn’t tell us? [Laughter].

Gerry Griffin: Well, there’s another thing that happened and I — we were flying missions in a hurry. We had gotten used to that in Gemini. But those of us that were on the 7 had our heads down, in your interest [laughter] and ours too, but we had our heads down and we just — I wasn’t thinking about it. I was thinking, well the landing will come later.

Glynn Lunney: I think, Gerry, it was deliberate. They decided not to tell us because we were doing what we were doing and no sense worrying about something else at the same time. So when we got off, it didn’t take us long to join the team and say, yep, that’s the best thing to do and off we went.

Vanessa Wyche: So once the decision was made and we were orbiting the moon, how did Mission Control choose to maximize the 20 hours that were spent orbiting the moon?

Glynn Lunney: Well we had a lot of guys, like Ken Young, out there who were working on the lunar trajectory, especially on the unknown of what was the gravity field going to be like when we got to the moon? Gravity field was affected by all of the meteors that hit the moon and went inside. And they made the pull on the spacecraft vary as you went through the process of flying over it. So we wanted to fly the profile that we were going to have when we got to Apollo 11 or whenever the landing would occur. And that was going to be a high point for us, was to get that information. And then there was a variety of other things that we wanted to test out in terms of the trajectory. And we got to do them all and we were very, very comfortable.

Vanessa Wyche: So for the entire panel — so, as mentioned Apollo 7 launched in October 1968, and then Apollo 8 launched two months later in December, and then Apollo 9 launched two months after that, Apollo 10 two months after that, and then Apollo 11 landed on the moon in July 20, 1969. So here at JSC we’re about to support launching commercial test flights, crewed test flights, followed by SLS and Orion flights. How do we get the crews and Mission Control — how do they learn from your test flights? What do they learn? And how do we ensure that the crew’s safety?

Walt Cunningham: Actually, a couple of factors in there that — we have been changing, not necessarily us or our thinking about it, but believe me, NASA has been changing, our world is out there changing. And I remember at the time, a mission every two months seemed normal. Because that’s what it was set up to do and we were training as best we could. And we went through the catastrophes up and down and what have you. But who we started operating and went on. But we had a different kind of attitude. I could remember for example, Apollo 11 made the landing. That was the first one that was listed as going to be making the landing. But amongst the crews, those of us that might occasionally talk, we expected to lose at least one of those missions to get to the moon. We didn’t know it was going to be going as perfect as they managed to operate it.

So we had an attitude and it did it. Today’s when they’re going to start flying, I’ll be very surprised if they fly more than maybe two a year on that. And maybe that is perfectly good and it will meet whatever requirements they have. But also the role that comes in there is the cost of doing these kinds of missions. And NASA’s budget over the years, over the last 50 years has been deteriorating greatly compared to what we did back then. We paid the price and they knew — I think the original budget for the Apollo program was $20 billion. And it ended up costing $24 or $25 billion, which was a really fine performance on it. Well, today that $24 billion, if you adjusted it, that number would be like $135 billion or $140 billion.

So you look at the size of NASA’s budget today, the difficulty you have convincing Congress to make that higher, and the political aspects that go on to it, and the various departments that they’ve added to NASA. It’s very, very difficult today and I’m not sure when we’re ever, if we’re ever going to get back to that kind of a launch rate.

Gerry Griffin: But can I? I’ve thought a lot about this one because we had — we got into a cadence. We did it in Gemini and then we had the break for the fire in Apollo. But we were right back into that cadence of thinking operationally.

Glynn Lunney: Two months.

Gerry Griffin: Yes. We were thinking ops. And I don’t think we over thought the process. We trusted the people and the hardware a lot. And had we flown in more missions, we may have lost one, who knows. Like, Walt says, it’s a risky business. But I think the ability to accept that risk was easier 50 years ago. There’s just no doubt. And the cadence, I keep kind of coming back to that. I remember sitting next to Cliff Charlesworth for the launch — the earth launch of Apollo 11. He had asked me to — I was a systems guy and he was a fighto type of guy, so we kind of made a team. But I never will forget sitting there and we went into a hold on the Saturn. And I had just been named to be the lead flight director on Apollo 12, which was the next mission.

I was sitting there when the Apollo 11 countdown, in a quiet moment and I started thinking about 12, what I had to do to get ready. So here it is, I’m sitting at the launch of the first landing on the moon, thinking about the next mission. But that’s what happens to you when you get into that kind of repetitive. But boy we were all sharp. We — all of our people, the guys that — some of them here, we kept our skills sharp because we kept working. And we didn’t have long breaks.

Walt Cunningham: Dedicated.

Gerry Griffin: Yes.

Ginger Kerrick: For future programs, we have the International Space Station in operation, you know, 24/7 for humans on board for 18 years. So we have every day an opportunity to practice our operations mindset for an orbiting vehicle. What we are worried about with the cadence of the flights for the commercial crew program being roughly twice a year, and the Orion program being once a year. How do you maintain that sharpness for the dynamic phases of flight? So that is an area that we recognize. We didn’t really have to address an Apollo because of the frequency of the missions. But that we are going to have to address for the future programs.

Gerry Griffin: And you’re going to find, too, and it’s just natural, we didn’t have much coast time. We did have some coast going to the moon and after we did TLI some coast time–but even there we were active. We were making mid-course corrections and barbecuing the spacecraft, you know, turn and roll it to keep the temp right. And that was the real difference. Almost everything we did, there was dynamics all the time going on, which kept us — it was a hoot. It was fun. [Laughter]. And it never got boring, even when these guys were sleeping.

[ Laughter ]

Walt Cunningham: Well, I have to tell you, the philosophy of this gets me. You see, I’ve always felt and believed, and I think all the guys in our time did, you’re not going to get anywhere in life unless you’re willing to stick your neck out a little. That has been changing over the last 50 years.

Vanessa Wyche: So you also talked a little bit about the decision velocity and how you guys pushed things down to the lowest level. Were there any other things you did to help with making decisions faster? The decisions that you had to make, is there anything else?

Glynn Lunney: Well, I think we had a lot of things to learn about the lunar orbit. But all those were listed and they were the result of the planning that we did for Apollo 8 because we imagined all the things that we might do. And it gave us the opportunity to exercise almost all of those things that came up during the consideration for Apollo 8. So by the time we got done with that, we were completely ready to use our models of the gravity field to help us steer the vehicle to where we wanted it to go. Even at that, we were a little bit off on the next flight, on 11, and even 12 probably had a little learning to go. But it was narrowing down and it was good. And we were proud that it went so smoothly. We took full credit for that ourselves. [Laughter]. But it really wasn’t. A lot of other people made that work.

Vanessa Wyche: Okay. We’re going to switch gears a little bit and talk about safety and risk leadership. So what were the safety process changes after the tragic loss of Apollo 1 crew? And how were they helpful to the success of Apollo 7 and 8, and the rest of the Apollo program?

Walt Cunningham: Safety process changes. I’ve never been asked about that before. It wasn’t so much the processes as the equipment and as we designed it. We — I can remember internally, and you had that one picture, you know, the Apollo 1 crew there, like their heads bent praying for safety on this stuff. That was not — that was overstated a bit to what they were doing. But — and here’s what could be a mistake that we were doing at that time. We felt like we could overcome whatever it was that was still going in that spacecraft. And there’s been other things, other parts of those changes that we hung our necks on and insisted that they happen, but we also felt like we could adjust and roll with it, didn’t like it, and what have you. But we were going to do the job. So it was an attitude that we had on it.

And the changes that were critical, we always dealt with those. And I think that it wasn’t just us. I mean, all the engineers here working on that. Here there is a big difference today. We participated back in those days as we were just getting started, that we had 30 astronauts total until we killed off five of them pretty quick. So 25 or 30 astronauts. But we were participating in the design, in the reviews, in the testing, in the engineering. That is a process that is a long time gone, I think, and the procedure on it. And there’s some advantages that come out of doing that. So I’m just glad I lived in the good old days. [Laughter].

Vanessa Wyche: Well, we’ll let Ginger add to that.

Ginger Kerrick: Well, the good old days are still here. Happy to share that. But our astronauts that are assigned to the commercial crew provider vehicles, have been embedded in the design, even before the crew announcement. So for the last four years we have been embedded in the development of these vehicles side by side with the engineers that are designing it, side by side with the people that are building the procedures and building the crew displays and providing comments to them to make that vehicle safer and make that vehicle easier to operate. We are also doing that with the Orion vehicle, as well. So while it may not be as you gentlemen described before for our crew members spend the night at the factory, as it was in the Apollo days, we still have that in so we can make the vehicles safer for the crews.

Vanessa Wyche: Did you want to tell them about the story of spending the night at the factory.

Gerry Griffin: I guess that’s Walt.

Vanessa Wyche: Did you sleep in the —

Gerry Griffin: Spending the night at the factory. [Laughs]. So somebody could pull you out for a test.

Walt Cunningham: Oh yeah. That was Frank Borman and I. People don’t think back — Frank was on — he was commanding of our backup crew at the time, on Apollo 7 — on Apollo 2, it was. And we had — we didn’t have the simulator. It was built, in spite of what they say, I just noticed, I read an article where I was credited with having about 250 hours in the simulator before we flew. We had 80 hours, plus or minus a couple. Because they finally got a simulator. But we were living with it. And when we were out there building it and installing things, the only way we could some familiarity with the switches and how they operated, and we — they ran 24 hours a day. We started having people there at night, most of the people got out of it. Frank Borman and I were perfectly willing to spend the night. We’d spend the night there, trying to get sleep in the little room on top of the construction area down there. You might get woken up at 2 o’clock in the morning because they installed some little piece of equipment. And Frank and I or sometimes just one of us, we’d go down there and work with the engineers, test that equipment, get it out. So today we’re much past that because they’ve got the equipment that’s built. They don’t have to go through that kind of activity on it. But we did benefit, I think, from doing that.

Gerry Griffin: Yes. Fred Hayes did the same thing at Bethpage. Spent a lot of time at the factory and just spent the night and go from there.

Vanessa Wyche: So, you know, with Apollo, the cadence, and the activity that was going on, the hours were very long. How was the workforce motivated to complete the goal of Apollo?

Glynn Lunney: Well that — that was easy. I saw this motivation question and you couldn’t stop them. As a matter of fact, our spouses could probably tell you, how we were doing on that. People just came and did what they had to do and never paid attention to the clock or anything like that. And as a matter of fact, with the team we had, we did not have to do any motivation. They motivated themselves, which is the way it ought to be. You like that?

Gerry Griffin: Yes. I was going to say, I had been in the Air Force, in a fighter squadron and I know Walt was in a fighter squadron as well. And I can remember when I got here, it felt like a fighter squadron. Where you had these young people, mostly young, and we had a few more senior leaders at the top. They were 40, you know, or something like that. [Laughter]. And the rest of us were somewhere in our 20s or early 30s. And we felt a little bit, probably also like a fighter squadron. It felt a little bit bullet proof and invincible. And we got our heads handed to us a couple of times and it knocked us down a little bit. But Glynn is right. It didn’t take any motivation — everybody was pushing on the same thing, and pulling on the same oar. And a great team feeling that’s why, I say the we, the we feeling was — we were eaten up with it. It’s good.

Walt Cunningham: And I have to tell you, only later did I realize that in this stage, we were so busy just doing stuff that I didn’t get a chance to think about it. But that group was younger than we were. I think the average age in your group was — was it 26, 27,28?

Gerry Griffin: 26 and 27.

Walt Cunningham: 26 and 27. Just imagine that and the decisions they had to make. At the same time, I can tell you this, our group, the astronauts at the time, we had the total, I was in the third group, we had up to 30 and started losing a few and spacecraft or airplane, what have you, But the average age in the astronaut office, in those days, was about, I think it was like, 35, the average when we had those. And at the time we never even thought about the fact. We were older than the people that were out there taking care of us. And telling us what to do sometimes. [Laughs]. And sometimes we listened. [Laughter]. But today, I think, the average age in the astronaut office is the mid-40s or something like that. And when Wally Schirra left, after Apollo 7, he retired. He was the oldest active astronaut and he was, at the time, he was 43, I think. The oldest active astronaut. Things have changed since that time.

Vanessa Wyche: Alright.

Glynn Lunney: Have you noticed we get a little age sensitive about [laughter] what goes on around us? [Laughs].

Vanessa Wyche: So Ginger, how do you motivate your team?

Ginger Kerrick: Well, whether my team or the JSC workforce in general, motivating our community is very different than the motivation that we had in the Apollo days. In the Apollo days it was a national goal. You get to the moon by the end of the decade. And it was embraced, not only by NASA but, you know, the entire United States. I think for the current timeframe that we’re in, we have multiple goals. And our workforce is working on a lot of different programs. We have a number of vehicles under development. We have the continued operations of the ISS. We’re going to be flying un-crewed test flights soon and crewed test flights soon for both the commercial crew and Orion programs. And you don’t get the benefit of seeing an actual launch, a U.S. launch from U.S. soil, with U.S. crew members every two months. So it is a different motivation. And what we can do for our workforce is acknowledge that while we are not flying — actively flying vehicles right now, their workload is high.

They are preparing to fly these vehicles and doing everything that they can to make these vehicles safe. And we can acknowledge that maybe there are things we can do to offload their work and under the leadership of Mr. Geyer, as you know, he is working with senior staff to determine if there are any adjustments, we can make to how we are structured here to provide the workforce some additional help. So in addition to the workload, you can also motivate folks by communicating your successes. So this auditorium was full when we had the commercial crew announcement. And the JSC community could now put a face with the vehicle that they were working so hard to develop. That really struck a cord with a lot of people here. In five days, we’re going to have the ESA service module arrive at Kennedy Space Center. A huge milestone for the Orion Program. So by communicating those successes and keeping our folks eye on the goal, I think they will find that motivational.

Vanessa Wyche: Great. So for Glynn, Gerry, and Walt. As Ginger said, we’re very excited about where we’re going in the future. What lessons learned would you have for us as a group about to bring on new spacecraft? What lessons from Apollo would you give us with regards to bring out a new?

Gerry Griffin: You know, I don’t think there’s anything like a flight to get everybody’s attention. And I think as soon as you get — when you get the go to launch a commercial crew or whatever, not only the cadence is going to — your heart rate is going to increase. And I think the self-motivation will kick in. I think we learned — what we learned and Ginger’s got it right, we had a national goal and we had the country behind us, almost all the way. There was some wavering toward the end. But by that time, we’d already landed on the moon. And I think once you guys get to flying, I think, anything, whether it’s a commercial crew or Orion, I think a lot of your motivation, your interest, the national interest it, particularly Orion, I think, is going to — I think commercial crew is going to get a lot of interest because it’s the first time that that’s ever been done. But when you get to Orion — what do you call it, EFT 1 or whatever?

Ginger Kerrick: EM 1 and then EM 2. EM 2 will be the first crewed.

Gerry Griffin: EM 1. And when you do an EM 1, even unmanned, it’s going to — you’re going to see it. That’s what we got out of — to me that’s what I learned, is that the nation when it sets its mind to it, can do just about anything as pointed out in the video. But we were so lucky to be in the middle of it. And it was kind of a right — just being in the right place at the right time. We weren’t all counting on that when we got out of college, and that sort of thing. But I think the legacy of 7 and 8 and the rest of the program was we can do this. It’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s risky. And people ask me sometimes, “What’s NASA’s primary job?” And I say, well, a lot of it is managing risk and you can never manage it to zero. So you’ve got to pull the trigger eventually. I think you’re going do it. I think you’re going to do it just fine.

Walt Cunningham: I’ll just add two thoughts to what you said there. One, times they are a changing. And two, thank God I lived when I did.

[ Laughter ]

Vanessa Wyche: So specific lesson that can be learned from Apollo for both commercial crew and Orion, they will be landing under chutes. Anything that you can give us in terms of lessons learned for landing? To the landing teams, themselves?

Glynn Lunney: We learned that flying in that thing that we used for training was a dangerous thing to be doing. Neil and others had to parachute out of it. And there’s some of the most impressive videos that we have. But that is part of the game. And I really was proud at the way we handled that. And Neil was always the champion of you need to learn how to do that and you need to learn how to do it when you’re flying. And he was talking, of course, about the lunar landing. But there’s going to be a variety of conditions that you’re going to have to learn how to do. And you can just face up to them and get them done.

Walt Cunningham: That factory that you talked about, most of the people may have seen that in First Man. I watched it and I can remember that event. And in the movie, I saw there out someplace in the countryside, I have no idea where it was, and he ended up crashing the lunar landing training vehicle. And it meant — in the movie he had cut up face pretty bad, too. Now let me tell you what really happened. [Laughter]. My office was right next door to Neil’s, in the same building but got it on different floor today. And Neil was doing the testing and several of the other guys were doing it, too. At Ellington Air Force Base right there between the runways is where they would do this. I think that accident happened about 10 o’clock, not exactly sure on it. But Alan Bean was next to me. Alan and I — I think Alan came in and he says, “Hey, did you hear? They crashed the lunar landing training vehicle.” I says, “Oh yeah?” And he says, “Yeah, forty-five minutes ago Neil was doing it.” And I says, “Neil couldn’t have been doing it. He’s in his office right next door.” Alan and I went over. Looked in. There’s Neil Armstrong. Nothing cut up on his face or anything. And he’s sitting there with his paperwork and he’s filling out his paperwork. Forty-five minutes after that happened. That is more the real kind of people that we had and it took in those days. So it’s kind of interesting that the public at large will never know that when they look at — see it on the movie.

Ginger Kerrick: One of the things I’m interested in is, you know, with respect to the water landing. So two of the three new vehicles that we are developing are going to land in the water and you know, in the Apollo program, you were up for a couple of weeks and you land in the water. Some of our crew are going to be up for six months. And on journeys tomorrow is longer than that. And landing in the water, based on your experience, is there anything that you would like to share of things we should think about and consider as we go back to water landings?

Walt Cunningham: Well, there’s no question that if you had a good land landing, even like the Russians are doing. That’s the one thing that we’ve never caught up with them on, the land landings. But in the water, and looking at the spacecraft, which is only slightly larger than the one we had back there. It looks to me like it’s still possible that after you land in the water it turns over. So you probably have refilled bags out there to turn it back over. That’s nice for the landing. But I’ll never forget on ours, the first manned capsule like that. When we landed and turned over. And what we had to do is we had to get out then and turn a switch on, I think, to inflate the bags. There was nothing automatic about those bags. The one that was supposed to do that was Donn Eisele. And were hanging upside down for a little while there. And Eisele started getting loose and he says, can one of you guys turn that switch on? And our commander, of course, turned and he says, “Hey, Walt go ahead and turn the switch on.” I got out of my — hanging like this. But by the time I got down there and trying to find the switch to turn this thing on, I was getting about to the point to throw up, too. So if you can find a better system on those switches or maybe you can do it automatically somehow. I’d recommend it.

[ Laughter ]

Vanessa Wyche: Did you want to talk about our plans for water recovery? That’s under your area.

Ginger Kerrick: Oh, yes. I’ll tell you right now where there’s an underway recovery test going on just off the shore of San Diego, as we’re preparing to make sure that we’re ready to support the recovery of the Orion capsule and our crew members. So we conduct quite a number of tests, both at our neutral buoyancy facility here and out in open sea waters. So we can make sure that all of the pieces of the puzzle that have to work together that we know where they’re going to land. That we can get there in time. That we can get the crews out of the vehicle, so that they are not throwing up. Get them safely onto a ship. Get that ship safely to shore. If there’s any medical conditions that occur, do we have the right to helicopters and have we made arrangements with the local area hospitals. So there is a lot of effort going on by a lot of different people to make sure that we have this capability in place, whether we’re landing on one of the commercial vehicles or whether we’re landing on our Orion capsule.

Walt Cunningham: Can I ask you a question about that on Orion? One, I strongly recommend not going through that if you don’t have to, especially since you will probably be having crews that have been up there a lot longer. And originally, years ago, I remember the Orion was going to land on land. Can you tell me why they changed and now it’s a water landing, too. I feel sorry for them. [Laughter].

Ginger Kerrick: I feel like I should call up our Center Director and former Orion program manager to answer that question. [Laughter]. No, I cannot tell you exactly why that happened. What I can tell you is the original plans were assessed and this new proposal came up. But we do understand and we do recognize that it is not preferable. But there were technical decisions that were — technical considerations that were put in place to make sure —

Walt Cunningham: A financial decision.

Ginger Kerrick: Yes. You can ask Mark when we get off stage. [Laughter].

Walt Cunningham: A financial decision.

Vanessa Wyche: Back to you Ginger. So are Gateway and Orion, are there additional lessons learned from Apollo that you think we’ll be incorporating?

Ginger Kerrick: Absolutely. So as the administrator stated in the video that we watched. For Apollo our goal was to get to the moon. But for the Gateway program our goal is to stay there. So from the Space Policy directive, we have been chartered to lead the development of an innovative and sustainable exploration program that starts at the moon and allows us to use the Gateway as a base to go off beyond the moon to Mars. The program that we have been chartered to set up, we’ve been tasked with combining with — I mean, joining forces with our international partners. And even new international partners that we have not had any experience with in the Space Station Program. And also joining forces with the commercial industry. So when you look at Apollo, certainly we’re going to look to the Apollo programs for lessons learned about remembering what it’s like to operate in the lunar vicinity and potentially one day on the surface of the moon.

For the International Space Station program, they have quite a wide array of experiences in negotiations with international partners that we will choose from — I mean that we will pick from. And also even the Orion program and our partnership with ESA. And then for the commercial aspect of it, we have lessons to be learned from how the ISS handled the commercial cargo contracts. And the new partnerships and the early lessons learned were seen in how we have set up the structure for the commercial crew programs. So Gateway will have to pool on our all of our histories and the lessons learned from all of our programs because it is going to be such a uniquely structured program.

Vanessa Wyche: Okay. So we’re about to come near the end. And so, this final question is for everyone as well. So what advice do you have for JSC employees trying to make contributions in the development of the new programs — of the new vehicles? What advice would you give employees that want to make a contribution? How can they do that? What are the things that they should be trying to do?

Glynn Lunney: To be ready. Well, I go back to the — what we went through and it made us ready to do what we had to do. And you guys are now getting to start that experience. The crew vehicle will go through a variety of turns as it matures. And you’ll learn something from every one. But in the front end, I think you ought to have an expectation that it’s going to be a little bit like Gemini. We had things go wrong with the Gemini spacecraft regularly, thrusters and so on, fuel cells. We didn’t know what we were doing. And it was a time when people had to tackle the new problems as they came along. Flight rate helped that. A cadence of two months is good for that kind of thing.

If you can get anywhere near getting to something like that. But you have two systems, right. You have one crew from one supplier and you’ve got another supplier. So presumably you can work that to your advantage and get as much flight experience as you can in the team. And the faster you can do that, the better it’s going to be.

Vanessa Wyche: Gerry, you want to add anything?

Ginger Kerrick: I would just add for the employees here today, just remember that you are a part of history. Look at these gentlemen here on stage. I mean, they are three gentlemen representative of a generation of people that did something that when you look back on it now, seemed unachievable. And you have an opportunity to play a similar role now to get us to the next step so that 50 years from now you’ll be on this stage. I don’t think I’ll still be here. But you’ll be on this stage and people will be asking you similar questions about what advice do you have to help them to take the next step?

Gerry Griffin: I think you are both right on. You know, I kind of look at the commercial crew piece as kind of your Gemini. You’re going to get more flights, get ready, and get kind of in the grove. And then you’re going to take that big step next to go to the moon. I can tell you, I think we would all tell you, it’s different. Your whole thought process has to go through a little bit of change because unlike lower earth orbit, you can probably get them home if you had to, I don’t, in a matter hours. You get out to the moon and you’re three and half days or so, if something goes wrong. And we even had, even the calm delay, as small as it was, we had to get used to that. In fact, for a while we sounded like a World War II aviation movie. You know, we were using over to indicate we were through talking, now it’s time for you to talk.

Because we were stepping on each other. And part of that was the delay in the network. It wasn’t the distance as part of it but a network delay. So I really think that you have an opportunity now to kind of rekindle, at least in part what we got to do. You’ve got better technology. You’ve got companies that are outstanding that can do a lot of stuff. And you’ve got — I keep telling people around the world, the people that NASA are just as smart as, in fact they’re a lot smarter than we were. Smarter is probably the better word. I’m looking at Bryan Lunney. But anyhow, I really think you’re all fun and adventure and think of it that way. That’s what I’d say.

Walt Cunningham: It just dawned on me, too. I think you’ve got like 45 or 50 astronauts in the astronaut office now. I was just wondering, if any of those people are here, can I see the hands? Anybody that’s working in astronaut office. A couple.

Ginger Kerrick: One arm way over there.

Walt Cunningham: Yes. Well, thank you very much. Okay. There was another thought I had. I thought they would find it interesting but I forgot what it was. [ Laughter ] I’m allowed that. Okay. Just chart that up to my age. But I was going to say this, if you are working on a program, be committed. It’s not just a job. It’s so much better if you are into that, and you’ve bought into what they are trying to do and you’re going to add what it takes to make it a success. As I look back on it, I feel so fortunate at this stage in my life. I’ve done a lot of other things since. But I feel so fortunate to have had that eight years here back when that was the criteria. Thank you.

Vanessa Wyche: Well, I want you guys to join me in thanking our panel. I know this was a tremendous conversation. And we just thank you all for all of the information you shared, the advice. Thank you very much.

[ Applause ]

[ Music ]

Gary Jordan: Hey, thanks for sticking around. I hope you enjoyed that. That was a little different from what we usually do. It’s an onstage presentation. But there was a lot of great stuff in there. And, of course, not many times do we get that many legends all together to talk about some of the great history that we have at the Johnson Space Center. So I hope you liked it. Again, we’re in the middle of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions. You can check out some more at Otherwise, you can check out some of our other NASA podcasts on There’s some great ones that I know I’ll be binging on is On the Mission, Invisible Network, Gravity Assist, NASA and Silicon Valley, Rocket Ranch. Yes, we’ve got a lot now. You can go to to learn about the information on what’s going on now. We’ve got some commercial crew launches coming up. So make sure to check out some of those on to find out how you can watch them live. And join us on all of the social medias, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @NASA, @NASA_Johnson, whatever you like. Use a hashtag #AskNASA and submit a question on your favorite platform for either us or for either the Johnson Space Center or for Houston We Have a Podcast. But if you want it on the show, make sure to mention Houston, We have a Podcast. So this episode was recorded on November 1, 2018. Thanks to Alex Perryman, Pat Ryan, Norah Moran, and Kelly Humphries. Thanks to Vanessa Wyche for moderating this episode. And to our panelists, Walt Cunningham, Glynn Lunney, Gerry Griffin, and Ginger Kerrick. Happy 50th anniversary to NASA’s Apollo program. That will wrap up our two-part series for Apollo 8. And we’ll be back next week.