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Apollo 13

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Apollo 13


Apollo 13, the 1995 motion picture directed by Ron Howard, is the true story of Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert, a team of astronauts reassigned to a space flight with diminished preparation time. This routine mission to the moon suddenly becomes a survival mission to safely return home to Earth. The film details the circumstances affecting two separate but cohesive teams. The purpose of this case analysis is to identify the critical events, explain the underlying causes of why these events happened, and draw logical conclusions about the teamsЎЇ performances as related to effective teamwork and leadership.


The first critical event of the film gives the Apollo 13 astronauts their mission. Alan Shepherd, the original Apollo 13 commander, and his crew are scrubbed from the mission. Lovell, Haise and Mattingly, originally slated to fly the Apollo 14 mission, are suddenly moved up to the Apollo 13 mission giving them only six months to train. This event affects both the teamЎЇs progress and process due to the time constraints warranted by the rushed training schedule.

Two days before the launch of Apollo 13, a member of the back-up crew contracts the measles, which leads to the second critical event of the movie. Mattingly is scrubbed from the mission because he is the only member of the primary crew who has never had the measles. This decision affects the process of the crew because there are now only two days to train with back-up pilot, Jack Swigert. It is inferred that Lovell and Haise do not have a strong cohesive relationship with Swigert simply because they have not had the proper amount of time to train with him.

The third critical event occurs as the astronauts are performing routine maintenance onboard the spacecraft. Swigert is commanded by Mission Control to Ў°stir the oxygen tanks,Ў± which causes an explosion resulting in a loss of oxygen supply to the astronauts. This incident changes the progress of the team due to the fact that the mission to the moon now becomes a mission to safely get back home. The ground crew in Mission Control remains calm and begins to Ў°work the problem.Ў±

The fourth critical event in the movie affects the progress of the Mission Control team. The engineers have a meeting to decide the safest method of returning the crippled spacecraft to Earth. It is decided to Ў°slingshotЎ± the spacecraft around the moon to provide the necessary momentum to return the crew back to Earth. This decision affects the process of the Apollo 13 crewЎЇs timeline and procedures performed to safely make it back home.

The fifth critical event in the movie affects the progress of the Mission Control team, as well as the process of the Apollo 13 crew. The engineers must develop a way to Ў°fit a square peg into a round holeЎ± (Apollo 13 Workshop, 2004) in order to filter the toxic carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen, using only the tools and equipment that the astronauts have onboard. This scene in the movie demonstrates excellent leadership abilities as the ground engineers relay information to the astronauts, who successfully build a duplicate filter to remove the carbon dioxide from the remaining breathable oxygen supply.

The last critical event brings Mattingly back as an active team member to work in the simulator in order to devise a method for maximizing the limited number of amps available for power. This decision affects the dynamics of the Mission Control team, as well as the process of the Apollo 13 astronauts, as the return of Mattingly increases hope and morale.


The reason the Apollo 13 mission had been determined to be a Ў°successful failureЎ± is that, even though they did not land on the moon, the crew was able to safely return to Earth without serious injury. But what caused the key, critical events to happen in the first place? Why did these critical events turn out the way they did and lead to a successful rescue of the crew? There are three conceptual tools that can be used to understand the underlying causes of the critical events. In this portion of the analysis, both evidence and inference will be used to examine the stages of group development, the GRPЎъI Model, and team leadership.

The Forming Stage

Both teams in the film progress through the four stages of group development; forming, norming, storming and performing; however, not much emphasis is placed on the initial forming stage. In the beginning of the film during a party celebrating the first successful moon landing of Apollo 11, Lovell, Haise and Mattingly appear to have a working/social relationship as they have already been slated as the team to fly the future Apollo 14 mission. It is inferred that these

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