13 MORE Things That Saved Apollo 13, part 12: The ‘Trench’ Band of Brothers

A look at the Mission Operations Control Center (MOCR) or Mission Control during the Apollo era.  In this image, 2 is the Retrofire officer, 3 is the Flight Dynamics Officer and 4 is the Guidance Officer. See the bottom of this article for the full list of the flight controllers seen here. Credit: NASA.

A look at the Mission Operations Control Center (MOCR) or Mission Control during the Apollo era. In this image, 2 is the Retrofire officer, 3 is the Flight Dynamics Officer and 4 is the Guidance Officer. See the bottom of this article for the full list of the flight controllers seen here. Credit: NASA.

To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission, Universe Today is featuring “13 MORE Things That Saved Apollo 13,” discussing different turning points of the mission with NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill.

In the original Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, a group of NASA flight controllers sat in the front row of the consoles, aligned nearest to the enormous front wall displays of the MOCR, or Mission Control. They sat in a ‘trench-like’ lower level with respect to the remaining flight controllers and this group came to be known as “The Trench.”

“The teamwork of the Apollo 13 band of Trench ‘brothers’ coordinating navigational challenges in a fashion that was never accomplished before or after in the annals of lunar flight was certainly one of the additional things that saved Apollo 13,” said NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill. “Failure to reach a consensus quickly in performance of the restoration of free return trajectory, the PC+2 and other crucial ‘burns’ would have been detrimental to rescue.”

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Read the rest of 13 MORE Things That Saved Apollo 13, part 12: The ‘Trench’ Band of Brothers (1,350 words)


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