"Capt. Lovell was the same age as Shackleton, forty-two, when he, too, faced the toughest trial of his life. ... With just fifteen minutes of power left for the life-support systems, the men were forced to abandon ship for the tiny lunar module, beginning an intense four-day struggle to survive. The module was designed to sustain only two men for forty-five hours. The Apollo 13 crew, under the direction of Mission Control in Houston, would have to turn it into a lifeboat that would accommodate three men for twice that time."
Shackleton, Reagan, Leadership, Careers, Challenges...
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.