What is the
most exciting thing 75 interns did at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on March 27?
They heard the “stuff of legends!” These legends walk among us, sharing stories that have become white noise against the current backdrop of
creativity and technological demands.
is one such legend. He shared how humans have used their minds in ways most
find inconceivable. Technology was rudimentary at best, and a man’s brain was a
tool far superior for solving complex problems. Kranz recounted how Apollo 11 would
become the mission that changed the face of human spaceflight—not only because
it landed man on the Moon, but because it would stretch all that we knew about
survival. It showed us how our greatest achievements are born when weighing
human life in the balance.
For a brief
period, interns silenced the devices competing for their attention as they
learned why the Apollo 13 mission never made it to the Moon. They heard of
catastrophic failure, an explosion, human will and insurmountable odds. Most
importantly, they learned what humankind can accomplish when pressed the
hardest. Engineers became masterminds, high-level math did not happen on an
iPhone and determination had no set limits. The people before them made split-second decisions and shouldered an unmeasurable weight of responsibility. Their
decisions would affect the lives of present and future generations. Would they,
one day, be called to do the same?
moved by Kranz’s talk was Maria Garcia-Robles, who enjoyed hearing Kranz pepper
his words of wisdom with personal anecdotes about watershed moments during NASA’s
“He told us
about his determination that the tragedy would not repeat … how he instructed
his team to write on their whiteboards and leave up forever, ‘Tough and
competent, to never take anything for granted and never stop learning,’” Garcia-Robles said.
removed from the events of the Apollo program, the interns learned that those
who laid the foundation of our space program are not ghosts, and that their
experiences continue to challenge all that we know … all that we believe … and
the direction we now take. That day, they learned what it takes to become a
NASA legend Gene Kranz imparts advice for interns at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Image courtesy of Johnson interns.