NASA flight director Glynn Lunney has passed away at the age of 84.
He not only was one of the flight directors in Houston that helped get astronauts to the Moon in 1969, he was also instrumental in getting the crew of Apollo 13 back home when their service module failed in 1970.
Lunney and his team were just about to come on console for the evening shift on April 13, 1970, when the Apollo 13 crew radioed, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”
“For me, I felt that the Black Team shift immediately after the explosion and for the next 14 hours was the best piece of operations work I ever did or could hope to do,” Lunney said in his oral history. “It posed a continuous demand for the best decisions often without hard data and mostly on the basis of judgment, in the face of the most severe in-flight emergency faced thus far in manned spaceflight.”
“We built a quarter-million mile space highway, paved by one decision, one choice, and one innovation at a time — repeated constantly over almost four days to bring the crew safely home. This space highway guided the crippled ship back to planet Earth, where people from all continents were bonded in support of these three explorers-in-peril,” he said. “It was an inspiring and emotional feeling, reminding us once again of our common humanity. I have always been so very proud to have been part of this Apollo 13 team, delivering our best when it was really needed.”
He had been part of NASA when it was young (as he was) and honest and dedicated to accomplishing its goals fast and efficiently and — most significantly — with courage. May he rest in peace.