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During our event December 14-15, 2012, we celebrated the achievements of the astronauts, engineers, scientists, and all others that contributed to success in the Space Race with a day of space-themed panels attended by over 1,200 visitors.The day opened with a panel on the near-catastrophic flight of Apollo XIII, as told by the astronauts themselves. Apollo XIII commander James Lovell (retired Navy captain and fighter pilot) and Apollo XIII Lunar Module pilot Fred W. Haise (a Biloxi native, USMC and USAF fighter pilot and NASA research pilot) discussed the harrowing events of that mission with Gemini/Apollo flight director Eugene Kranz and NASA engineers/flight directors Glynn Lunney and Gerry Griffin, who were key in successfully bringing the crew home after an oxygen tank explosion crippled the Apollo XIII Command/Service module.Next came a luncheon on the Museum's USS Cabot Flight Deck featuring guest speakers Senator John Glenn (first American to orbit Earth, Marine fighter pilot, Senator and oldest man to fly in space) and CAPT Eugene Cernan, USN (Ret.) (commander of Apollo XVII and last man to walk on the Moon). After lunch, a panel of astronauts discussed the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, the challenges they overcame to take the lead in space exploration, and what the Space Race meant for America and American preeminence in science, technology and engineering. Panelists included astronauts Charlie Duke, Walter Cunningham, Richard Gordon, Tom Stafford, Eugene Cernan, and David Scott. Finally, the Lunar Excursion Module replica was unveiled during a fundraising reception and dinner in Hangar Bay One and the Blue Angels Atrium. Featuring exemplary performances by Up With People, heartfelt rembrances by Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts.
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