Opinion: The ‘successful failures’ of Apollo 13 and Covid-19 vaccination

Doomed from the start. That phrase neatly describes the Apollo 13 mission as well as the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination effort in the U.S. Yet both can be seen as "successful…

Doomed from the start. That phrase neatly describes the Apollo 13 mission, which launched this day in 1970, and the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination effort in the U.S. Yet both can be seen as “successful failures.”

When astronauts James Lovell, John “Jack” Swigert, and Fred Haise blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center, they were anticipating mankind’s third trip to the surface of the moon. Two days into the mission, a defective oxygen tank exploded when they were some 200,000 miles away from Earth, imperiling their lives and making it impossible to complete their mission. Around-the-clock efforts by teams on the ground, imbued with NASA ingenuity, helped the astronauts return safely to Earth in what was nothing short of a miracle. “Our mission was a failure,” Lovell wrote later, “but I like to think it was a successful failure.”

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