ORIGIN OF APOLLO 13 QUOTE :
"FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION."

[Among those pictured above during the Apollo 13 rescue are: Glynn Lunney (lower left), Bill Tindall (seated beside Mr. Lunney with his chin in his hand), Christopher Kraft (standing beside Mr. Tindall with cigar in left hand), and Jerry Bostick (wearing a sportscoat and tie and looking over Tindall's right shoulder)]


Origin of "Failure is not an option."

Among the great quotes of manned space are: "Godspeed, John Glenn", "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.", "One small step for (or: a) man, one giant step for all mankind", "Houston, we've had (or: we have) a problem", and "Failure is not an option." I've often wondered about the origin of the latter quote. Recently, an e-mail from a friend, Jerry Bostick, who contributed significantly to the success of the movie APOLLO 13 detailed the story. Jerry, as one of the key flight controllers responsible for the rescue, served as a technical advisor for the movie. Jerry's son Mike worked for Ron Howard as a co-producer of APOLLO 13. It was Mike who suggested Mr. Howard acquire the rights to Apollo 13's Commander Jim Lovell's best selling book: LOST MOON, the story of the Apollo 13 mission. Here is the account of the origin of "FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION" with regard to APOLLO 13, the movie:


Explanation by Jerry C. Bostick
Flight Dynamics Officer (FDO) Apollo 13

As far as the expression 'Failure is not an option", you are correct that Kranz never used that term. In preparation for the movie, the script writers, Al Reinart and Bill Broyles, came down to Clear Lake to interview me on "What are the people in Mission Control really like?" One of their questions was "Weren't there times when everybody, or at least a few people, just panicked?" My answer was "No, when bad things happened, we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them. We never panicked, and we never gave up on finding a solution." I immediately sensed that Bill Broyles wanted to leave and assumed that he was bored with the interview. Only months later did I learn that when they got in their car to leave, he started screaming, "That's it! That's the tag line for the whole movie, Failure is not an option. Now we just have to figure out who to have say it." Of course, they gave it to the Kranz character, and the rest is history.


From left to right: Ron Howard, Mike Bostick, Jerry Bostick, Tom Hanks

Your observations about the actual mission and how it affected your faith are very interesting, because I, too, became an even stronger believer during and after the mission. My first "religious" experience during a mission was on Apollo 8 when they first came around from the back side of the moon the first time at the exact second we had predicted. I teared up and told my colleagues, "This just proves that someone is in charge who knows a lot more about orbital mechanics than any of us."


For, perhaps, the best example of "Failure Is Not an Option" from the Apollo 13 rescue, click here for the duct tape solution of "fitting a square peg into a round hole." Be sure to enjoy the YouTube video featuring the song, "Apollo 13 Tribute to Duct Tape."


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