“Houston, we have a problem.” Those words were forever immortalized when Apollo 13 Commander Captain James Lovell Jr. reported a catastrophic mechanical failure back in April 1970 that threatened the mission of the spacecraft, which was more than 200,000 miles from earth at the time. Lovell, who with his crew found solutions to the mechanical problems, is now one of two crew members serving as headline speakers at the upcoming SolidWorks World 2011 event.
Lovell, along with Gene Kranz, lead flight director for the mission, will recount their story in the hopes of serving as an inspirational example of engineering under pressure. In response to what turned out to be a sudden failure of the cryogenic oxygen system, Lovell and his crew successfully modified the Apollo 13 craft’s lunar module to become an effective “lifeboat,” providing power and water for an emergency return to earth. Kranz headed the ground-based “Tiger Team” that helped coordinate the detour, and their actions earned both Kranz and Lovell Presidential Medals of Freedom.
The pair will speak at SolidWorks World, which takes place Jan. 23-26, 2011, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. Last year’s headliner was film maker James Cameron.
In an unrelated announcement that happens to touch on space exploration, SolidWorks talked up the use of its software by the Rocket City Space Pioneers, a Huntsville, AL, team competing in Google Lunar X PRIZE. The X PRIZE competition challenges engineers to develop low-cost methods for robotic space exploration.
The team is leveraging SolidWorks CAD and SolidWorks Simulation to validate its designs for a low-cost lunar lander/rover system that they’re aiming to send to the moon by 2014. The lunar lander is being designed to travel 500 meters and to transmit video images and data back to earth.