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A successful failure: NASA's crisis communications regarding Apollo 13.

James Kauffman (*)


In April 1970, NASA faced its second major crisis when an explosion on board Apollo 13 threatened the lives of its three astronauts. NASA's handling of the crisis not only would determine the fate of the three astronauts, but also the image of the space agency and possibly the future of American manned space exploration. This paper examines NASA' s crisis communications regarding Apollo 13. It argues that NASA and the Nixon administration's handling of the crisis not only bolstered NASA's image, but it also may have helped to gain crucial public and congressional support for continued manned space exploration. The space agency succeeded by responding quickly to the crisis and communicating honestly and openly with its key publics. The study demonstrates how a successful response to a crisis can enhance the image of an organization. (c) 2001 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

In April 1970, NASA attempted its third manned moon mission in less than a year with Apollo 13. Initially, the public paid little attention to the mission. Enthusiasm for moon missions had waned in the wake of Apollo 11, ten months earlier. Critics began questioning whether the country might better spend the money devoted to space exploration on social ills like poverty and education. The television networks, sensing little public interest, did not even telecast a live interview with the Apollo 13 crew from outer space. However, this all changed on April 13. Astronaut James Lovell' s announcement, "Houston, we've had a problem," marked the beginning of a crisis that captured the attention and interest of the entire world. For four days, Americans and people from around the world collectively held their breath and prayed for the safe return of Apollo 13 astronauts Lovell, Fred Haise, and John Swigert.

Observers attest to Apollo 13's drama and significance. Writing in the summer of 1970, Washington Post reporter Stuart Auerbach called Apollo 13's four-day adventure "one of the most dramatic stories of the decade." Similarly, New York Times science reporter John Noble Wilford described it as "a drama of epic dimensions worthy of a Homer." Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox proposed that President John Kennedy's Apollo ended with the landing of Apollo 13. They characterized the mission as "the pinnacle of the spirit behind Kennedy's commitment" and depicted it as the last time the nation was "transfixed" by the space adventure. (1)

One cannot overstate the interest in the crisis. The United States Information Agency characterized the television and radio coverage of the splashdown as "probably at its highest peak for any single event in history, apparently surpassing even that of the actual walk on the moon by Apollo 11." (2) Editors of Associated Press member newspapers and radio and television stations chose the abortive flight as the top news story of l970. (3)

For NASA, the stakes were high. The space agency's handling of the crisis not only would determine the fate of the three astronauts, but also the future of American space exploration. NASA needed Congressional and public support for its future programs, the space shuttle and the orbiting space platform. NASA's response to the crisis became crucial to how Congress and the American public would view the agency and manned space exploration. This paper examines NASA's crisis communications regarding Apollo 13. It argues that NASA and the Nixon administration's handling of the crisis not only bolstered NASA's image, but it also may have helped to gain crucial public and congressional support for continued manned space exploration.

During a crisis like the Apollo fire, an organization must communicate effectively with its publics to minimize damage to the organization's image. Kathleen Fearn-Banks has defined crisis communications as "communication between the organization and its publics prior to, during, and after the negative occurrence." (4) Effective communication not only can eliminate a crisis, but it can sometimes "bring the organization a more positive reputation than before the crisis." (5) Johnson & Johnson's handling of the Tylenol poisonings stands as perhaps the best recent example of an organization that enhanced its public image through its deft handling of a crisis. (6) NASA must be especially vigilant in maintaining public trust and confidence for two reasons. First, the space agency receives the vast majority of its funding from Congress. Thus, NASA must maintain public and congressional trust and confidence to maintain funding. Second, NASA must, by law, keep Congress and the American public informed regarding its op erations. NASA has a more difficult time than businesses or other federal agencies simply refusing to provide information about itself, information that might hurt its credibility and threaten its funding.

Poor handling of a crisis can ruin the credibility of an organization and ruin the public confidence and trust an organization had worked years to create. Poor communication can exacerbate a crisis. (7) Organizations facing a crisis should at least do the following: 1)Respond quickly; 2) Tell the truth; 3) Provide a constant flow of information, especially to key publics. NASA did all of these things. The space agency responded quickly, making available information about the accident as it happened and holding a press conference within three hours of the mishap; it provided accurate, relevant information to the media and Congress; and it quickly appointed a board to investigate the tragedy consisting of independent consultants and NASA officials who did not have direct responsibility for Apollo 13, thus quelling potential questions about NASA's openness and the objectivity of the investigation.

NASA had learned from its poor public relations handling of the investigation into the Apollo 1 fire that claimed the lives of three astronauts in 1967. Brian Duff, the director of Public Affairs at the Manned Spacecraft Center, had worked in s Public Affairs office in Washington during the Apollo 1 investigation. Apollo 13 commander James Lovell proposes that Duff came to live by one overarching rule: "When things are going well, tell the media everything they want to know; when things are going badly, tell them even more." (8)

The public learned quickly of Apollo 13's troubles, partly because of NASA's media policy and partly because of the quick actions of NASA's Public Affairs Office. First, NASA had a media policy that allowed reporters direct access to the communications between the astronauts and mission control. NASA had altered its policy in the wake of the criticism it received for its handling of the Apollo I fire. Prior to, and during, the Apollo 1 flight, NASA employed a seven-second delay in the astronaut-mission control communications that the media received so that NASA's Public Affairs officers could edit the communications. Since the Apollo 1 accident, recalled astronaut James Lovell, "NASA had recognized the importance of maintaining its reputation for unvarnished honesty and eliminated the on-site censoring." (9) Further, the space agency allowed one print reporter and one television reporter, selected by the world's press, into mission control during key events and emergencies. The two reporters served as a pool for the rest of the press. For the Apollo 13 mission, the press selected Time-Life's Jim Schefter and NBC's Roy Neal. When the mishap occurred, Jim Schefter filed a quick pool story, which all of the wire services and networks picked up and reported. NASA's Public Affairs Office had little to do but confirm the accuracy of the report with Mission Control. (10) The access NASA allowed placed great pressure on it to respond quickly and accurately to media queries about the mishap. Second, the agency's Public Affairs Office moved quickly to share information with its stakeholders. At 12:20 a.m.-within three hours of Apollo 13 reporting its problem-NASA held a special press conference at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston to provide the latest information about the flight and to answer questions.

NASA's pro-active stance with the press required quick reaction. The space agency especially wanted to stop potential rumors and speculation before they could start. Astronaut Lovell recounts Mission Control's concern about silence in response to any problems during the flight. Mission Control wanted desperately to keep the press from feeling "kept in the dark." A slighted press, he added, "could turn on you in an eye blink." (11)

Not only did NASA respond promptly, it also responded candidly. Aviation Week & Space Technology praised the agency's openness: "NASA's public relations performance also deserves credit for the prompt candor with which it detailed the problems and all the long and tortuous efforts that finally successfully solved them." (12) Gordon Harris, a NASA Public Affairs officer during Apollo 13, recalled that the space agency made certain that the press got the news "without embellishment." The media received "the facts and could make judgments as to the deficiencies and strengths of the manned space flight program." (13) NASA's candor impressed Time: "The total and instant access to bad as well as good news of U.S. space shots underscored the openness of American society." (14)

NASA made certain that its highest ranking officials represented the agency during the crisis. NASA participants included Thomas Paine, NASA Administrator; Chris Kraft, Deputy Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center; James A. McDivitt, Apollo Program Director; S.A. Sjoberg, Director of Flight Operations; and Deke Slayton, Director, Flight Operations, Manned Spacecraft Center. NASA also took advantage of adulation for Astronaut Neil Armstrong by having him serve as chief spokesperson at one of the press briefings during the crisis. Ironically, Armstrong opened the press briefing by acknowledging he knew little about Apollo 13. (15)

From the start, NASA shared with the world the problems it faced and its attempts to correct those problems. Chris Kraft began the special, midnight press conference on April 14 by admitting the agency had "a serious problem in the Command and Service Module" due to "some kind of accident" in the "region of the fuel cells and oxygen tanks." (16) Kraft did not mince words about the severity of the problem faced by Apollo 13: "This is as serious a situation as we've ever had in manned spaceflight." As Kraft recalled, the special press conference was "no time to candy-coat things." (17) NASA's representatives explained that an oxygen tank had exploded, but they refused to speculate as to the cause of the explosion. For example, when pressed about the cause of the accident, Kraft responded that he had "no idea" of what "exactly happened." (18) In the same conference, the press tried to pressure James McDivitt to speculate about the cause of the explosion, but he refused, pointing out his answer would be "pure con jecture." (19) Space agency officials continued to refuse to speculate about the cause of the problem, even in the postfiight briefings. (20) At a special briefing on April 14, NASA Administrator Thomas Paine tried to reassure Congress and the nation that NASA was doing everything in its power to address the problem, making "absolutely sure" it brought in the "best expertise" in the country and leaving "no stone" unturned to bring the Apollo 13 crew home safely. (21)

The press also asked NASA' s representatives if, in light of the accident, the agency planned to slowdown the program. Again, the representatives smartly refused to speculate what effect the accident would have on the Apollo program until they knew the nature of the problem. NASA Administrator Thomas Paine instructed that NASA's "performance" during the flight would "undoubtedly" effect Congress' view of NASA's future activities. Paine characterized NASA as preoccupied with the Apollo 13 flight and "spending no time whatsoever thinking about Apollo 14." Later, Paine declared it "too early" to speculate about "scrubbing future missions." (22) Similarly, when asked if he thought NASA should suspend moon missions in light of Apollo 13, Neil Armstrong said he would "reserve judgment" until he had seen a summary of an analysis of data from the flight. (23)

Not all NASA representatives responded perfectly during the crisis. In responding to questions at a April 16 press conference, Deke Slayton portrayed everything as normal, proposing NASA had no great concerns about the astronauts or the flight. One reporter challenged Slayton's rosy characterization, pointing out that "nothing seems to be difficult, nothing seems to be of concern; do you feel the situation is being overdramatized?" In downplaying NASA's concern, Slayton ran the risk of creating a backlash if the press believed the space agency had oversold the dangers the astronauts faced. Further, such a positive portrayal would create high expectations for the flight. If anything else went wrong, the press would attack NASA. Slayton recovered by striking a balance between confidence and concern. "I would not underestimate our concern," he explained, but he added that NASA had things "well under control" and felt confident about "getting the crew home safely." (24)

Astronaut James Lovell also made a comment that garnered a great deal of media attention. Shortly after the explosion, Lovell remarked that "It looks like this will be the last Apollo flight for a time." The comment, heard by everyone in Mission Control and the nation, jolted listeners. Writing about the remark years later, Lovell characterized it as worse than profanity. "This was a calmly, coldly expressed statement of doubt," he observed, "doubt in the mission, doubt in the program, doubt in the agency. For NASA, it was profanity of the highest order." (25) The media zeroed in on the remark and pressed NASA officials for comment. Administrator Paine and Neil Armstrong both responded to direct questions about the comment by restating faith in the continuation of the manned space exploration, by proposing that Lovell meant NASA would have to determine the nature of the Apollo 13's problem, which might take them a long time, or by ducking the question, as Paine did at the postflight press conference:"I can't comment on Jim's comment because I haven't really read it." (26) At the astronauts' postflight press conference, a reporter asked Lovell about the comment. The astronaut responded that at the time, he meant what he said, but the remainder of the flight had changed his mind. "Looking back on the way NASA had responded in helping us get home, I don't believe that anymore." He proposed that NASA simply had to analyze its problems, correct them, and "charge ahead." Lovell reassured his listeners of his faith in NASA and the program: "I wouldn't be scared to fly with the fix." (27)

Upon the successful return of the astronauts, NASA and President Richard Nixon tried to influence the way Congress, the public, and the media would interpret and depict Apollo 13, manned space exploration, and NASA. Nixon clearly recognized the political capital he could garner from a successful space program. Also, he had become fascinated with moon flight beginning with Apollo 8. (28) He identified personally with the Apollo 13 drama. On April 17, Nixon publicly called the day the Apollo 13 astronauts returned "the most exciting, the most meaningful day that I have ever experienced." (29) One detects the President's sense of awe regarding the space program in his memoirs: "Exploration of space is one the last of the great challenges to the American spirit. Space is perhaps the last frontier truly commensurate with America's capacity for wonder." (30)

NASA and Nixon attempted to bolster the image of Apollo 13, manned space exploration, and NASA in two ways: 1). by relying on the frontier narrative used so effectively to depict earlier Mercury and Apollo flights; and 2). by characterizing Apollo 13 as a success. NASA and Nixon understood the appeal of the frontier narrative. President John Kenney had made the New Frontier the centerpiece of his administration. He characterized the manned missions to the moon as frontier adventures. NASA, and every administration following Kennedy's, has employed the frontier imagery in selling manned space exploration. The narrative consists of four constituents: 1). a rugged, independent pioneer who must travel through 2). a hostile, unknown environment and overcome 3). a malevolent antagonist in his quest to reach 4) a specific, geographic location capable of being conquered and dominated. Clearly, depicting space exploration in such terms privileges man over machines.

At the postrecovery press conference, NASA Administrator Thomas Paine opened by portraying the flight in frontier imagery. The astronauts, he proposed, represent. "the great spirit of exploration, of bravery, men who are willing to go out into new areas and overcome problems as we push forward to explore the unknown." Later, he referred to man's "conquest of space" and spoke of learning how to "sail" on the "new ocean of space." (31) The space agency's Apollo 13 mission report characterized the flight as an "epic struggle" in which the astronauts were "pitted" against "the hostile environment of space." The "struggle" continued for three days, with "final victory" only coming when the carrier Iwo Jima recovered the spacecraft. (32) Nixon used his postflight remarks to highlight the astronauts' qualities and their superiority over machines. The President proposed the flight demonstrates that even in an era of "magnificent technocracy, that men do count, the individual does count." (33) The flight reminds Ameri cans of the "special qualities" of the astronauts who "dare to brave the perils of space": bravery, skill, discipline, courage, ingenuity, resourcefulness, teamwork, and character. (34) "In a crisis," the President instructed, "the character of a man or of men will make the difference." Nixon asserted that the flight had broader implications. It reminded Americans of their "proud heritage as a nation"; the flight proved the American character is "sound and strong." And the astronauts epitomized the American spirit: "Theirs is the spirit that built America." (35) In short, man was indispensable in the conquest of outer space.

Nixon further highlighted the necessity of humans in space exploration by denigrating machines. The astronauts' safe return is "a triumph of the human spirit-- of those special qualities of man himself we rely on when machines fail, and that we rely on also for those things that machines cannot do." (36) Similarly, he reminded his audience that "machines, no matter now very perfect they may be developed, sometimes can develop troubles, and then people count." (37) Nixon made speeches regarding the successful return of Apollo l3 on April 17, 18, and 19. In each speech, he emphasized the failure of machinery and the importance of humans.

NASA and Nixon made special efforts to recast the flight in a positive light. At a press conference the day after the accident, NASA Administrator Thomas Paine agreed with a reporter's characterization of the Apollo 13 mission as a "qualified failure." (38) At the postrecovery press conference three days later, Paine tried to put a positive spin on the flight: "Although the Apollo 13 mission must be recorded as a failure, there's never been a more prideful moment in the space program." Paine went on to acknowledge the flight as a "set back," but he proposed that the agency would "learn more" from solving the problems it faced than it would have had Apollo 13 repeated the "flawless" missions of Apollo 7 through 12. (39) Similarly, Robert Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, reluctantly agreed with the technical classification of the mission as a "failure," but he pointed out that Apollo 13 "flew around Moon, and two years ago this would have been an outstanding triumph." (40) Astronaut James Love ll echoed his superiors, explaining that while some people would call the flight a "failure," he viewed it a triumph: "a triumph of teamwork, initiative and ingenuity, on the ground and in the spacecraft." (41)

President Nixon went further than NASA representatives in trying to characterize the flight as a success. In awarding medals to the mission control operations team in Houston the day after the return of the astronauts, he said the flight was "not a failure." The astronauts, he explained, "did not reach the moon, but they reached the hearts of millions of people in America and in the world." (42) Later that day, in awarding medals to the astronauts in Honolulu, Nixon attempted to use the rhetorical power of the presidency to recast Apollo 13: "I hereby declare that this was a successful mission, a great mission on behalf of your country." (43) Within a month, NASA had produced a mission report titled, "Apollo 13: A Successful Failure." It proposed that "officially," one must classify the aborted flight as a "failure." However, "in another sense, as a brilliant demonstration of the human capability under almost unbearable stress, it has to be the most successful failure in the annals of space flight." (44)

In its mission report, NASA attempted to capitalize on the positive reaction toward the flight to alter perceptions and interpretations of the mission through the use of an oxymoron. An oxymoron refers to a rhetorical figure in which one combines incongruous or contradictory terms. Strategically an oxymoron would appear a poor choice for public affairs professionals trained to value clarity. An oxymoron would appear to violate such a value. Yet, NASA's oxymoron served the agency well. (45) First, it allowed the agency to temper Administrator Paine's early depictions of the flight as a failure. The agency could not retract or simply ignore its earlier depiction. Rhetorically, NASA would have a difficult time selling the aborted moon landing as an unqualified success. Apollo 13 had not accomplished its mission and nearly cost the lives of three astronauts. The agency undoubtedly understood that much of its good will regarding the flight stemmed from the openness with which and the honesty about which it communi cated during and after the flight. NASA did not want to do anything to make observers view it as dishonest. Characterizing Apollo 13 as a "successful failure" allowed NASA to celebrate and highlight the astronauts and the importance of humans in space exploration. At a time when the American public and Congress questioned the value of manned space exploration, the depiction elevated humans and, indirectly, denigrated machines. Further, the oxymoron, in juxtaposing ideas, called on audiences to question an either/or depiction of the flight as a failure or a success. Also, the positioning of the terms focuses on the positive and productive aspects of the flight. It appears that under certain circumstances, public relations practitioners may employ oxymoron successfully in communicating with stakeholders.

Not only did the space agency respond well during the crisis, but it also responded effectively after the crisis. Enemies of the manned spaceflight would try to use the postflight delay to undermine support for and confidence in the program. "Much depends on the vigor and candor with which the Government handles the investigation of what went wrong," Time warned. NASA was up to the challenge. First, it responded quickly to investigate the accident. Within thirty minutes of the Apollo 13 crew's return, NASA appointed a board to investigate the cause of the accident. It appointed Edgar Cortright, director of NASA's Langley Research Center, as chair of the review board. Although it selected other members from the space agency, it excluded members with direct responsibility for Apollo 13. Further, it would consult with experts from business and academe. (46) NASA did not wish to repeat the mistakes of its Apollo 1 postflight investigation. Critics attacked NASA for appointing NASA officials with direct responsibi lity for Apollo 1 to the review board. Critics also questioned such a board's objectivity and motivation to find the cause of the problem. Consequently, NASA tried to ensure that Congress and the public would accept the review board as an objective, technically competent group committed to identifying the cause of Apollo 13's problems. (47) NASA's approach seemed to work. The New York Times praised the space agency's handling of the investigation: "NASA was completely open about the inquiry, even issuing periodical reports on the board's progress." (48)

NASA used the astronauts effectively to create a positive view of the manned space flight program and the space agency. The astronauts appeared at a press conference on national televison and before the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences to chronicle their adventure and to answer questions about their flight and the future of NASA's space flight program. Newsweek observed that upon the return of Apollo 13, the future of the manned space program was in doubt. Yet, within two weeks, the program's fortunes had changed. The magazine attributed much of the credit for the change to the astronauts' press conference: "There seems little doubt that this performance, coming in the wake of the successful return itself, had something of a snowballing effect." (49) The astronauts used the press conference to reassure Congress and the public that they had faith in the space program. Lovell proposed that he would attempt another moon landing if the space agency invited him to go again. John Swigert proclaim ed that the flight had increased his confidence in the space program's ability to respond to the unexpected and succeed. (50)

The responses of Congress and the press suggest that NASA and Nixon succeeded in creating a positive view of Apollo 13. First, one finds the postrecovery rhetoric of NASA and Nixon echoed in Congress and the press. The New York Times accepted the characterization. "Only in a formal sense, Apollo 13 will go into history as a failure," the paper editorialized on April 18. "But in a larger sense, Apollo 13's flight was enormously productive." (51) In remarks on the floor on April 20, Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R., ME), proposed that in some respects, one could view the aborted mission as "the greatest of all space achievements." She then offered an assessment similar to NASA and Nixon: "What threatened to be tragedy and failure has now been converted to dramatic and thrilling success. (52) Similarly, Senator Clinton Anderson (D., NM), chairperson of the Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, began a special hearing on the Apollo 13 mission on April 24 by echoing the characterization of Apollo 13 as a s uccess. Some people consider the flight a "failure" because it did not accomplish its lunar landing, Anderson observed. "But in a real and larger sense, it was a human success-a triumph of the human spirit, an exoneration of the human mind, a tribute to human perseverance, a victory for all mankind." (53)

The depiction of the astronauts as latter-day pioneers with exceptional human qualities also resonated with Congress and the press. On April 20, House Speaker John McCormack (D., MA), characterized the Apollo 13 astronauts as "humanity's representatives on the 20th century frontier-outer space." McCormack said a reduction in the nation's commitment to manned space exploration would constitute "a betrayal of the pioneer traditions of our forefathers." He praised the astronauts' talent, courage, "remarkable" skill level, and "unmatched display or fortitude." (54) Representative Joe Evins (D., TN) congratulated the astronauts' "supreme discipline" and "magnificent courage" in the face of danger, proving that "men take over when machines fail." (55) Time reduced the drama to a test of human capabilities: "It was the guts, wits and will of a handful of men matched against the enormousness of space." The magazine also reported that in discussions with an aide, President Nixon referred to the "inherent risks of chal lenging frontiers" and drew comparisons between the astronauts' mission and the covered wagons that crossed the American plains. (56) The Washington Daily News urged Congress not to cut funding for manned spaceflight because the program captured the public's imagination and "opened new frontiers" in outer space. (57)

Second, Congress appropriated more money for NASA in 1971 than the Nixon administration had requested. House floor debates over NASA 1971 budget took place on April 23, a week after Apollo 13's return. The House bill included increased funding for Apollo programs and money to begin the space shuttle program. (58) Supporters of increased manned space flight carried the day, voting 229-105 to add $268 million to NASA budget for 1971, bringing the House proposal to $3.6 billion. (59) Further, one finds positive references to the Apollo 13 flight in the floor debates. (60)

NASA's deft response to the Apollo 13 crisis bolstered the agency's image and maintained sufficient confidence and trust with Congress and the public to gain continued support for manned space exploration. The space agency learned from its poor response to the Apollo 1 fire three years earlier and redesigned its

crisis communication policies and practices. During Apollo 13, NASA followed its revised crisis communications plan expertly. NASA would not face another major crisis for 16 years when Challenger exploded while the world watched. This time, the space agency did not follow its crisis communications plan and exacerbated the tragedy. (61)

James Kauffman is Dean of the School of Arts and Letters at Indiana University Southeast.

(*.) Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-812-941-2256; fax: +1-812-941-2529.

E-mail address: (J. Kauffman).


(1.) Stuart Auerbach, "Apollo 13 and the Wires," Columbia Journalism Review (Summer 1970), p. 52. John Noble Wilford, "When We Were Racing With the Moon," New York Times (June 25, 1995), p. 1, II. Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox, Apollo, the Race to the Moon (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), pp. 447-48.

(2.) "Foreign Media Reactions to Apollo 13," U.S. Information Agency, May 5, 1970," in U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, Apollo 13 Mission, 91st Cong., 2nd Sess. (April 24, 1970), p. 33.

(3.) "Apollo 13 Selected as Top Story," Washington Star (December 28, 1970), p. 5.

(4.) Kathleen Fearn-Banks, Crisis Communications: A Casebook Approach (Mahuah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1996), p. ix.

(5.) Ibid, p. 2.

(6.) See, for example, Scott Cutlip, Allen Center, and Glen Broom, Effective Public Relations (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1994), p. 59, and Fern-Banks, op. cit., pp. 148-49; for a different assessment, see David M. Berg and Stephen Robb, "Crisis Management and the 'Paradigm Case,'" in Elizabeth Toth and Robert L. Heath (eds.), Rhetorical and Critical Approaches to Public Relations (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1992), pp. 93-110.

(7.) Fearn-Banks, op. cit., p. ix. Also see, for example, James Kauffman, "Crisis in Space: NASA's PR Efforts Regarding the Hubble Space Telescope," Public Relations Review 23 (Spring 1997), pp. 1-10, and James Kauffman, "Adding Fuel to the Fire: NASA's Crisis Communications Regarding Apollo 1," Public Relations Review 25 (Winter 1999), pp. 421-32.

(8.) Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger, Lost Moon (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994), p. 196.

(9.) Ibid, p. 154.

(10.) Christopher Kraft, Flight: My Life in Mission Control (New York: Dutton, 2001), pp. 335-36.

(11.) Lovell and Kluger, op. cit., p. 200.

(12.) Robert Hotz, "Apollo 13," Aviation Week & Space Technology (April 20, 1970), p. 9.

(13.) Gordon Harris, Selling Uncle Sam (Hicksville: Exposition Press, 1976), p. 46.

(14.) "Triumph Over Failure," Time (April 27, 1970), p. 13.

(15.) "Neil Armstrong's Press Briefing," Apollo News Center, (April 16, 1970), p. A/1, Johnson Space Center History Archive, Woodson Research Center, Rice University.

(16.) "Special Press Conference," Apollo News Center, (April 14, 1970), p. A/1, Johnson Space Center History Archive, Woodson Research Center, Rice University.

(17.) Kraft, op.cit., p. 336.

(18.) "Special Press Conference," op.cit., p. C/1.

(19.) Ibid, p. D/1.

(20.) "Post Recovery Press Conference Number 2," Apollo News Center (April 17, 1970), E/2, Johnson Space Center History Archive, Woodson Research Center, Rice University.

(21.) "Post Recovery Press Conference Number 1," Apollo News Center (April 17, 1970), p. A/1, Johnson Space Center History Archive, Woodson Research Center, Rice University.

(22.) "NASA Administrator's Briefing," Apollo News Center, (April 14, 1970), pp. A/2 and B/1, Johnson Space Center History Archive, Woodson Research Center, Rice University. See also "Post Recovery Press Conference Number 1," op. cit., p. B/1.

(23.) "Neil Armstrong's Press Briefing," op. cit., p. B/2. See also "Special Press Conference," op. cit., p. G/l and G/2.

(24.) "Deke Slayton's Press Briefing," Apollo News Center (April 16, 1970), p. C/4, Johnson Space Center History Archive, Woodson Research Center, Rice University.

(25.) Lovell and Kluger, op. cit., p. 206.

(26.) "NASA Administrator's Briefing," op. cit., p. A/2; "Neil Armstrong's Press Briefing," op. cit., p. B/3; and "Post Recovery Press Conference Number 1," op. cit., p. C/3.

(27.) Lovell and Kluger, op. cit., p. 342.

(28.) Ibid, p. 274.

(29.) Richard Nixon, "Remarks Announcing Plans to Award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Apollo 13 Astronauts and Mission Operations Team," Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (April 17, 1970), p. 366.

(30.) Richard Nixon, The Memoirs of Richard Nixon Vol. 1 (New York: 1978), p. 532.

(31.) "Post Recovery Press Conference Number 1," op. cit., p. A/1 and B/3.

(32.) "Apollo 13: A Successful Failure," National Aeronautics and Space Administration Mission Report, MR 7 (May 20, 1970), p. 2.

(33.) Richard Nixon, "Remarks On Presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Apollo 13 Mission Operations Team in Houston," Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (April 18, 1970), p. 367.

(34.) Richard Nixon, "Statement Following the Safe Return of the Apollo 13 Astronauts," Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (April 17, 1970), p. 365.

(35.) Richard Nixon, "Remarks Announcing Plans," op. cit., p. 120, and Nixon, "Remarks On Presenting the Presidential Medal," op. cit., pp. 369-70.

(36.) Nixon, "Remarks On Presenting the Presidential Medal," op.cit., p. 370.

(37.) Richard Nixon, "Remarks at a Special Church Service in Honolulu," Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (April 19, 1970), p. 371.

(38.) "NASA Administrator's Briefing," op. cit., p. B/1.

(39.) "Post Recovery Press Conference Number 1," op. cit., p. A/l.

(40.) "Post Recovery Press Conference Number 2," op. cit., p. A/2.

(41.) James Lovell, "I Was a Good Target for the Law of Averages," Life (May 1, 1970), p. 24.

(42.) Nixon, "Remarks On Presenting the Presidential Medal," op. cit., p. 367.

(43.) Richard Nixon, "Remarks On Presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Apollo 13 Astronauts in Honolulu," Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (April 18, 1970), p. 369.

(44.) "Apollo 13: A Successful Failure," op. cit., p. 8. For a similar view, see Fred Haise, "Apollo 13," The PTA Magazine, September 1970, pp. 14-16.

(45.) For examples of the rhetorical use of oxymoron, see for example James Jasinski, "Antithesis and Oxymoron: Ronald Reagan's Figurative Rhetorical Structure," in Reagan and Public Discourse in America Ed. Michael Weiler and W. Barnett Pearce (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1992), pp. 121-134; Robert Gunderson, "The Oxymoron Strain in American Rhetoric," Central States Speech Journal 28 (1977), pp. 37-65; and Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, The Rhetoric of Women's Liberation," Quarterly Journal of Speech 59 (1973), pp. 74-86.

(46.) "Apollo 13 Review Board Briefing," Apollo New Center (April 21, 1970), pp. A/l, Johnson Space Center History Archive, Woodson Research Center, Rice University, and "Apollo 13: Three Who Came Back," Newsweek (April 27, 1970), p. 26.

(47.) For a discussion of the public relations problems caused by the Apollo 1 review board, see James Kauffman, "Adding Fuel to the Fire," op. cit., pp. 421-32, and Lovell and Kluger, op. cit., p. 344.

(48.) "Verdict On the Apollo 13," New York Times (June 21, 1970), IV, p. 5.

(49.) "On to Apollo 14," Newsweek (May 4, 1970), p. 70.

(50.) John Noble Wilford, "Crew of Apollo 13 Willing to Attempt Moon Trip Again," New York Times April 22, 1970, p. 1.

(51.) "Safe Return," New York Times (April 18, 1970), p. 28. Lovell and Kluger characterize the postflight press coverage as "uniformly positive, indeed almost fawning." Op., cit., p. 341.

(52.) Congressional Record (April 20, 1970), p. S5971.

(53.) U.S. Congress, Apollo 13 Mission, op. cit. p. 1. Also see Senator Carl Curtis' comments on p. 30, and Representative George Miller, Congressional Record (April 23, 1970), p. 12828.

(54.) Congressional Record (April 20, 1970), p. H3247.

(55.) Congressional Record, (April 20, 1970), p. 12486. See also, Senator Margaret Chase Smith, U.S. Congress, Apollo 13 Mission, op. cit., p. 2.

(56.) "Apollo's Return: Triumph Over Failure," Time (April 27, 1970), p. 13.

(57.) The April 18, 1970 article, "Back From the Brink," is included in the Congressional Record, (April 20, 1970), p. 12486.

(58.) For a detailed discussion of the debates and their implications for the space shuttle program, see Ken Hechler, The Endless Space Frontier: A History of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, 1959-1978 (San Diego: American Astronautical Society, 1982), pp. 241-58, and Howard McCurdy, The Space Station Decision (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), pp. 22-33.

(59.) Richard Lyons, "House Adds to Space Fund Despite Strong Opposition," New York Times (April 24), p. 1:3.

(60.) See for example, Miller, op. cit, p. 12828, and Charles Mosher, Congressional Record (April 23, 1970), p. 12835.

(61.) See for example Sam Marshall, "NASA After Challenger: The Public Affairs Perspective," Public Relations Journal (August 1986), pp. 17-39; Alex Jones, "Journalists Say NASA's Reticence Forced Them to Gather Data Elsewhere," New York Times (February 9, 1986), p. 30; and Matt Moffett and Laurie McGinley, "NASA, Once a Master of Publicity, Fumbles in Handling Shuttle Crisis," Wall Street Journal (February 14, 1986), p. 23.
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Title Annotation:NASA's handling of Apollo 13 crisis
Comment:A successful failure: NASA's crisis communications regarding Apollo 13.(NASA's handling of Apollo 13 crisis)
Author:Kauffman, James
Publication:Public Relations Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2001
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