APOLLO  EECOM         Journey of a lifetime                                                 by   SY LIEBERGOT







I.S.S  H O M E



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Former NASA Flight Controller

My whole perception of the film Apollo 13 shifted when I went on my first research trip to the Johnson Space Center and sat in the MOCR with a dozen of the flight controllers who had been involved in the mission, including Sy Liebergot. I had always understood the original screenplay as a heroic survival story of three brave astronauts. However, while listening to these men reflect on their role in the crisis, I began to realize not only could the movie accomplish that truth but also shed light on the heroics of the men of Mission Control. Not Rambo-like, acrobatic heroics of violence but instead, the heroics of the application of accrued knowledge, combined with a tremendous emotional personal drive.  I had come upon a directorial opportunity to dramatize the power of the mind; a mind applied under great stress.  It might not be leaping from building to building but what the flight controllers did was a Herculean accomplishment.   It was a great test and those tests always make great drama. A key moment in the mission, dramatically speaking, was the moment Sy, portrayed by my brother Clint in the film, had when his recommendation from the EECOM console was to shut a fuel cell's reactant valves.  The objective of the mission was landing on the Moon and Sy's call not only ended that, but also gave full dimension of the disaster they were facing. Aside from his involvement in Apollo 13, Sy's life experiences should be held as an example of achievement. Young people ought to read this book and take note of a life well done.

Ron Howard, Director of the Apollo 13 film

I've had many perks in my forty-plus years in the entertainment business but few rise above the friendship that developed with Sy Liebergot. I remember the nervous anticipation I had prior to my first phone call with Sy.  I was getting a chance to quiz the man I was to play as White EECOM in the film, Apollo 13 and I didn't want to come off as a fool. As we talked, I remember Sy being very patient with me.  I also remember him saying something that would be a huge help for me preparing for the role, "I was no steely eyed missile man, that's for sure."   Sy was very humble, referring to himself as just an engineer and although he was a veteran of the manned space program, he recounted the lack of bravado he felt during the days of crisis on Apollo 13. After getting to know Sy over the years and now having read his memoirs, I realize what a remarkable man he is.  I know he'll never say this about himself, but Sy Liebergot is a hero. Heroes rise above personal adversity to make great achievements.  From where Sy came to what he's made of his life is a great achievement. NASA gave a young man, fresh out of college, an opportunity to be part of a new frontier and Sy didn't disappoint. To be part of a team that started with a blank sheet of paper and developed the hardware and procedures for manned space travel is pretty special.

Clint Howard, White EECOM, Apollo 13 film