Chicago-Jim Lovell, commander of the Apollo 13 mission, met National Design Engineering Show visitors at the Parker Hannifin booth recently. He also spoke at a reception hosted by the company, relating the crews' experiences of the ill-fated mission. He noted the part Parker Hannifin and its employees played in keeping the crew alive. The company had more than 120 components on the spacecraft, including valves vital in delivering the limited oxygen supply to the astronauts from the Lunar Module after their main supply was lost.
Afterward, Lovell spoke to Design News about his perspective on the space program.
Design News: Thirty years ago, where did you think the space program would be by the year 2000?
Jim Lovell: I thought we'd be farther along with the space station than we are. The original plan was to build the station and the Space Shuttle concurrently. But budget concerns forced the sequential development over the long term.
Q: Where do you see us being in the next 30 years?
A: I think we'll see a consortium of countries engaged in robotic and manned missions. We'll be close to manned landing, or have landed, on Mars. We'll also be getting the full-time benefits of a presence in Earth orbit [with space stations].
Q : What about the next five years?
A: The next five years are critical to the space station for getting it up and running. And of more immediate concern is getting the Russian station elements into orbit [so the project can continue more or less on schedule].
Q: Do you think NASA's "better, cheaper, faster" philosophy will be changed in light of the recent loss of two Mars spacecraft?
A: It's a shame that we lost two spacecraft. But you have to expect losses, while still trying for quality without [overspending].