Fred Haise, who spent 20 years with NASA and was the astronaut portrayed by actor Bill Paxton in the hit film "Apollo 13," will appear at Northwest Missouri State University Nov. 28 during the next installment of the university’s free Distinguished Lecture Series.
Haise will speak at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts. His remarks are titled "Failure is Not an Option," a signature line from the movie, which depicts the famously ill-fated, but ultimately triumphant, 1970 lunar mission.
The moon landing to be effected by the three-member crew had to be aborted after an oxygen tank exploded, crippling the service module upon which the spacecraft depended for power and life-support.
Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat and shortage of potable water, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17, 1970, thanks in large part to a jury-rigged carbon dioxide removal system the astronauts nicknamed "the mailbox."
In addition to Haise, the other crew members were flight commander James A. Lovell and command module pilot John L. "Jack" Swigert, who was elected to Congress before dying of cancer in 1982 at age 51.
Haise was supposed to pilot the lunar module, which the astronauts essentially transformed into a "life raft" that provided them with essential systems during the return flight.
Born in Biloxi, Miss., Haise began his NASA career as an aeronautical research pilot at Lewis Research Center in 1959. He also served as a research pilot at the NASA Flight Research Center in 1963 and became an astronaut assigned to the Johnson Space Center in 1966.
Haise was a backup crew member for the Apollo 8, 11 and 16 missions.
In 1973, he was involved in the crash of a BT-13 aircraft that had been modified for the movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" to look like a Japanese dive-bomber. The movie was a dramatization of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to the United States' entry into World War II.
In the ensuing fire, Haise was burned over more than 65 percent of his body. It took him 14 months to regain flight status, but he went on to fly five flights as commander of the Space Shuttle Enterprise in 1977 for the Approach and Landing Program at Edwards Air Force Base.
In 1970, President Richard Nixon awarded Haise the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His other honors include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Award, the NASA Special Achievement Award and induction into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.