Achieve a Common Goal


One of the great attributes of Scouting is that it teaches young men to work together to achieve a common goal. A Team can always do more by working together than they can do by working individually. Teamwork can bring out the best in all who are involved. An amazing example of this can be found in the story of the Apollo 13 mission to the moon.


Almost fifty-six hours into the flight, the crew felt a  sudden explosion. They were 205,000 miles from Earth, and alarms were ringing through the cabin of the spaceship. The spacecraft was losing power and oxygen.  The astronauts, Jim Lovell, (1928, Eagle Scout and astronaut), Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise were in grave danger.

Up to this point there had been four mission to the moon with the last two landing on the moon. This was to be the third moon landing - But not anymore.  The astronauts were still headed to the moon, but with the sudden emergency it would take a huge effort and a lot of team work just to bring them back to Earth.

The spacecraft that made up Apollo 13 was actually three separate modules all linked together: the service module, the command module, and the lunar module. The service module contained the fuel, oxygen, water, and electricity; but it had exploded and was now useless.  Without it, Apollo 13 couldn't fire its main engine.  It would helplessly swing around the moon and miss the earth by 4,000 miles.

Teams on the ground went to work. The engineers and scientists only had hours to perform the calculations that usually took weeks. They tested their results and sent the information to the crew. The engine on the lunar module was used to put the ship on a course that would bring them back to the earth. 

Other problems still loomed, The spacecraft's regular air supply was gone, and while the lunar module contained enough air to get them back to the Earth, they somehow had to clean the carbon dioxide out of the air supply. Again, teams went to work and a solution was found.

After four days, and a trip around the moon, the astronauts need to direct the command module to enter the earth's atmosphere. They needed to turn on the computers, but if they did it in the wrong order they would overload the batteries and lose all power and computers. Engineers spent long days figuring how to turn on everything without overloading the batteries.


The three astronauts landed safely in the Pacific Ocean. Flight commander Jim Lovell, called the Apollo 13 mission a failure, but he added, "I like to think that it was a successful failure." It truly was sa successful failure because of the teams of scientists, engineers, ans astronauts that worked out solutions to extremely difficult problems so the astronauts could return home safely.

The Scoutmaster Minute - Your Handbook for Inspiring Moments - Ron Wendel