The Apollo Education Experience Project

It’s A Wrap for MSU!

Another apology for the long interval between posts, but I’ve been tremendously busy trying to get the Command Module ready for this week. Earlier this week, a small crew from Mississippi State University arrived to shoot some flashback and cutaway scenes in the CM for their documentary “I Was There: XIII” about two MSU alumni who worked for NASA and played extremely important roles in getting the three Apollo 13 astronauts back safely. The CM still is not complete, but I’ve been feverishly working to get it “complete enough” for the shoot. So for the past few months, nearly every waking minute that wasn’t spent working or spending time with my kids has gone toward the CM – or in the inimitable words of the late Redd Foxx as Fred Sandford, I’ve been “burning the candle at both ends, in the middle, ’round the sides, and up the back!” Even after they arrived and were setting up for the shoot, I was still applying a few details in areas likely to be seen in the shots they were wanting.

Also, in addition to working on the CM, I converted a vintage nylon windbreaker jacket into an Apollo-era in-flight garment replica, which was necessary for the re-enactment of the scenes needed by MSU. It was supplemented with a Plantronics aviation headset of the type worn by the Apollo astronauts. To keep the number of people present to a bare minimum (thanks to CoViD precautions), I got to portray Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise.

The author wearing the completed Apollo-era in-flight garment replica. An Apollo 13 mission patch and a name patch for Jim Lovell have been added
(Photo: The Apollo Education Experience Project)

But all that hard work paid off. Their Senior Producer, James Parker, provided a few preliminary stills captured from the video they shot, and they look absolutely FABULOUS!! Except for captions, I won’t write anything else and let the images speak for themselves.

“We are … we are venting something into the … into space. It’s a gas of some sort.”
The author as Jim Lovell looking out of Window 1 of the CM.
(Image courtesy of James Parker, Mississippi State University Television Center)
The author as Fred Haise looking out of Window 5 of the CM.
(Image courtesy of James Parker, Mississippi State University Television Center)
“We’d like you to stir up your cryo tanks.”
The author as Jack Swigert throwing the switches for the oxygen tank fans.
(Image courtesy of James Parker, Mississippi State University Television Center)
Beauty shot of the Main Display and Control Panel (MDC, panels 1, 2, and 3) through Window 1 of the CM. The author as one of the astronauts preparing to enter something into the DSKY.
(Image courtesy of James Parker, Mississippi State University Television Center)

One of the things I had tried to get completed prior to the shoot was one of the crew couches – the seats for the astronauts. Unfortunately, I was unable to get it completed in time, but fortunately it wasn’t really necessary for the camera angles needed. However, in order to get into the appropriate position, I needed to use a stepstool placed into the position of the couch and lean back as though I was lying down. I probably don’t have to say that it was uncomfortable, but it was uncomfortable! The things we have to do to get the job done.

Behind-the-scenes shot through the hatch opening of the CM. The author is positioning a stepstool to prepare for a shot as Jim Lovell in the Commander’s position.
(Image courtesy of David Garraway, Mississippi State University Television Center)

I want to say a special word of thanks to David Garraway, Director of the MSU Television Center, who first contacted me about working together on this film project over a year ago, and has patiently endured delay after delay in order to get to the point of actually filming in the CM. I wish them every success with this film!

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