In his new memoir “Never Panic Early: An Apollo 13 Astronaut’s Journey,” 88-year-old Fred Haise describes a life of hard work, exploration and stoicism even in the most terrifying of moments. In 1970, Haise was slated to become the sixth man to walk on the moon as a Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 13.
But his trip there didn’t go quite as planned.
On day three of the journey, one of his fellow astronauts uttered the infamous words, “Houston, we had a problem here,” after an oxygen tank onboard exploded.
An all-out rescue mission to get the crew of three home safely ensued — and it captured the entire world’s attention.
For several excruciating days following the malfunction, Haise suffered a urinary tract infection that traveled to his kidneys. He recalls “quivering like a cold dog from fever,” unsure whether he’d ever get to see his wife Mary and their children again. (The book includes photos of the calculations he scrawled on scrap paper to determine whether they had enough battery power and water aboard to make it back home.)
Once back on Earth, Haise recounts the moment the world stopped to welcome him home: “Confetti and ticker tape was thrown out of windows in Manhattan, sirens sounded in Los Angeles, the bells in the National Cathedral rang for ten minutes, and in Grand Central Station, people from all walks of life stopped and applauded.”
Although he had already been portrayed by Bill Paxton in the 1995 film “Apollo 13,” Haise told The Post he wants to tell readers the inspiring story himself: “The story of Apollo 13 teaches you that, if you’re prepared and do a lot of training to handle all possible eventualities like we did, then you can survive and you can be successful.”
For his courageous service, Haise is the proud recipient of the NASA Distinguished Service Metal, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a spot in the International Space Hall of Fame.
“At 88 years old, I finally hit a point where I had free time,” he said. “I thought I’d tell everyone a little bit about my blessed life.”