Apollo 13

Apollo 13 Briefing Note


Apollo 13 case the relevant section of the film should be studied. This section begins about 46 minutes into the movie and lasts about 45 minutes. Below you will find the briefing note and the five broad areas upon which we wish you to focus – please note the specific questions.

Background briefing

On April 11, 1970, astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and last-minute, less experienced replacement Jack Swigert (played respectively by Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon) blasted-off towards the moon. After almost three days of smooth operations, an oxygen tank onboard the craft blew up, sending the crews onboard and at NASA\’s Houston-based command center into overdrive to get the spacecraft back to Earth with its inhabitants alive. The explosion triggered a series of dilemmas, one following another, that lasted several more days. They quickly lose oxygen, run out of power, and get exposed to dangerously high amounts of carbon dioxide. Intensifying the situation is the fact that these mishaps catch the scientists and technicians at Mission Control by surprise, and they\’re not sure how to remedy the situation.

We focus on a section of the movie which concentrates on a critical part of the Apollo 13 mission. In addition to focusing on the astronauts, this part of the movie features Gene Kranz the flight controller who is played by Ed Harris. To many he is the real hero of the mission. An important role is also played by Ken Mattingly who had been replaced by Swigert 72 hours before launch because he had been exposed to chickenpox.

Upon its release the Apollo 13 movie was praised by many of those involved as a fair portrayal of what happened. Of course, the events are compressed and critical moments are highlighted: but, the makers of the film did have access to a log of events as well as the voice recordings of the mission.

Your task is to identify and assess the leadership skills on display. To do this we use the Taxonomy of Leadership Skills advanced by the renowned leadership scholar Gary Yukl. This groups the skills as follows:

Technical Skills
Interpersonal Skills
Conceptual Skills.

The specific questions to be considered are set out below.

The main characters in the movie are as follows:

Jim Lovell Commander of Apollo 13
Jack Swigert Takes Mattinglys place as Command module pilot
Fred Haise Lunar module pilot
Ken Mattingly Replaced by Swigert
Marilyn Lovell Jim Lovells wife
Gene Kranz Prime Flight Controller.

Tasks and Questions

1 Set out your understanding of Yukls Taxonomy of Leadership Skills.

2 Technical skills
Once the accident happened how did flight controller Gene Krantz rely on the skills and expertise of his people?

3 Inter-Personal Skills teams & motivation
When Krantz had the team in the classroom how did he establish the goal and then how did he go about motivating others to achieve the goal of returning the space craft safely to earth?
Krantz stated Failure is not an option and Lovell told his crew I intend to go home. What are they doing? Is it effective?

4 Conceptual Skills – decision making & problem solving
Right after the explosion Krantzs asks Mission Control What do we have on the Space Craft thats good?
Why did he ask this question?
How did it aid in making the correct decision to shut down the fuel cells?

5 Overall
Gene Krantz is an effective a leader. Using leadership theory, assess his personal traits and behaviour.

Each of the above 5 tasks will receive equal weighting when assessed.

Please remember that there is no right or wrong answer to the questions above. What we are looking for is both:

A demonstration of knowledge and understanding and leadership, and
An ability to utilise theory and analyse the complex issues portrayed in this case.

Make sure that your report is well-written, clearly organized and has a logical flow. In terms of writing style, I suggest you effectively write a management report with references. Therefore, please feel free to use headings.