A little flag from ill-fated Apollo 13 is on display at the Behavioral Research Institute.
by Zach Martino
Photo by Glen E. Ellman
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Topics: Institute of Behavioral Research
by Zach Martino
The Apollo 13 mission to the moon in 1970 was cut short by an oxygen tank explosion two days after takeoff. Astronauts James Lovell, John Swigert and Fred Haise made a series of on-the-fly repairs, resulting in a safe return to Earth.
Also returning unscathed from the mission was a small American flag given to Saul Sells, founder and former director of TCU’s Institute of Behavioral Research. The flag still hangs in the Sandage Avenue institute.
After serving as an Air Force medical psychologist in the 1950s, Sells worked with NASA to study astronauts in space.
Among an assortment of plaques, photos and articles displayed on the wall of the Institute of Behavioral Research is a framed miniature American flag. The flag is accompanied by a certificate that states “THIS FLAG WAS ON BOARD APOLLO XIII DURING ITS FLIGHT AND EMERGENCY RETURN TO EARTH | APOLLO XIII | April 11-17, 1970” followed by the signatures of crew members James Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise and the official emblem of the Apollo XIII mission. Photo by Glen E. Ellman
George Joe, a longtime researcher at the institute, said Sells and his team tested “how people would cope … [in a] small environment for a long period of time.” He said Sells also tested an astronaut’s mental health and looked for “people who could endure these conditions.”
The flag is framed on a paper signed by all three Apollo 13 astronauts. The relic shares the record with Lovell, Swigert and Haise for the farthest spaceflight journey by man, having traveled around the moon and back.
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