Capt. James A. Lovell Jr. has something in common with Shackleton, having been the leader of another famous "successful failure" as NASA dubbed the ill-fated Apollo 13 flight. The 1970 mission never landed on the moon as planned, but with the benefit of level-headed leadership, optimism, determination, and the hard work of all involved it returned to Earth without any loss of life, overcoming nearly impossible odds.
"People like Shackleton and myself are individuals who can take on challenges, challenges that might include the unexpected," Lovell says. "You go in knowing everything is not going to work, and if you can think of things that can go wrong you can 'think ahead.'"
The astronaut reflected on his ordeal in space during a trip to the Antarctic in January 2000 to visit the National Science Foundation's station at the South Pole. Beforehand, Capt. Lovell had read about Shackleton and what he calls his "miraculous leadership" he showed in rescuing the crew of the Endurance.
"I think he took the same attitude we took on Apollo 13. You have to look forward as long as there is a chance," Capt. Lovell says of the Antarctic explorer.