Everyone is familiar with the phrase “Houston, we had a problem.” With the recent passing of Neil Armstrong, we are reminded of some of the many great successes and challenges we’ve seen in the space program as Americans.
Apollo 13 launched on April 11, 1970 and was intended to be the third craft to land on the moon. The 3 astronauts aboard (Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise) were prepared to do further exploration following the great achievements of Apollo 11 and 12. Unfortunately two days after launching, an oxygen tank failure was caused by an unlikely chain of events and Mission Control Manager Gene Krenz was responsible for coming up with a solution for the astronaut crew to get them home safely. This being the 1st time Mission Control had experienced any real problems; it created a large amount of shock for those behind the scenes. Gene stepped up to the plate and wasn’t about to give up on his team and made it clear that Failure was not an option.
I can’t help but compare this event to what we are seeing across the nation in agriculture today. With things set up so perfectly this spring, and everyone prepared for a successful year in farming, there was a sense of excitement as we planted into the nearly perfect soil conditions. But after an unlikely chain of events, with what seemed to be an impossible 2nd year drought and storms like we’ve never seen before, it changed the outlook of our mission quite quickly.
What amazed me about the Apollo 13 astronauts is how calm they are in the videos that replay this event. They are well trained professionals and are aware that their emotions have to take a back seat to the problem at hand so they can act rationally to make it through this unforeseen adventure. This was certainly a test of the trust in their team and leadership behind the project.
While we look at our own crops and those across the country, I am sure that famous phrase “Houston, we had a problem” can be appropriately used here. The question that comes into play is how prepared were we for protecting ourselves for the unforeseen? With so many aspects of farming being more volatile than ever, are you putting your emotions aside to make rational decisions moving forward? We all know the importance our crops have on the rest of the world, so it is vital that we do everything we can to protect it and continue to make strides forward as failure is not an option when it comes to feeding our nation.
As JFK talked about the missions of the NASA program, he reminded Americans that we chose to go the moon not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. So often the greatest feats we go through in life are the hardest ones. Undoubtedly this is one the toughest years American farmers have been faced with, but with planning ahead, the right resources behind you and the right attitude success will come. You are responsible for being the leader in your farming operation and stepping up to complete the mission, even though the expected end result has changed. So what you do next is your decision- do you move forward and learn from what happened throughout this growing season or do you stay focused on the past and continue to farm in fear?