Unknown Stories: WNY's connection to Apollo 13

Unknown Stories of WNY: Apollo 13

On April 17th, 1970, the nation was on the edge of their seats, hoping and praying for the safe return of 3 astronauts... after an outer-space rescue mission.

The crew of Apollo 13 had to go to great measures to make their crippled spacecraft work long enough for them to return to Earth.

Local aviation buffs say the road to the moon travels through Western New York, right from the earliest days of the space race.

When NASA needed an engine to power early space probes, they went to Bell, who took their Hustler engine and made it into the storied Bell 80-96 Agena engine.  The Bell Agena engines powered the first probes to the moon. And in a crucial turn, they powered the lunar ascent stage that helped lift the astronauts safely off the lunar surface for the return to the waiting command module in lunar orbit. 

Even Neil Armstrong credited Bell Equipment with his success in taking that small step for man... from the moment he went from automated to manual controls on approach to the moon.

For more on this Unknown Story of WNY, check out Pete Gallivan's story in the video player above.

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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