Hollywood superstar George Clooney joined up with Apollo 13 astronauts Gene Cernan, Tom Stafford and Jim Lovell in celebrating the 45th anniversary of the moon mission at a gala on Tuesday, May 12.
The big event, hosted by Swiss luxury watchmaker Omega, was held at the Western Airways Airport Hangar in Sugar Land, Texas.
Clooney, who was there as the brand ambassador for Omega, expressed his enthusiasm about what he called the "optimism of the period" during the years of space exploration. He said the Apollo mission was what "lifted us up," and that he hopes the similar missions to the moon will continue.
The Gravity actor paid tribute to the NASA astronauts – Cernan, Stafford and Lovell – who were in attendance.
Launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 11, 1970, Apollo 13 was the United States' third manned lunar landing attempt.
The mission, however, was aborted when an oxygen tank aboard the spacecraft suddenly exploded two days into its journey.
The damage rendered the Service Module of the spacecraft inoperable — endangering the lives of astronauts Fred Haise, Jack Swigert and Lovell, who was the commander of the space flight.
Instead of landing on the moon, the crew was stranded in orbit for days until they were able to guide the spacecraft back to Earth on April 17.
"Without our normal navigation equipment, we could see earth and used it as a guideline," Lovell recounted during the event in Sugar Land.
"We could burn the engine for 14 seconds and then had to turn it off; we used the watch Jack Swigert wore."
The watch that Lovell was referring to was the Omega Speedmaster Swigert wore during the mission. It is now on display at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
The Apollo 13 mishap is immortalized in the 1995 Academy Award-winning film Apollo 13, directed by Ron Howard. The movie was able to capture much of the historic events during the crisis — from the launching of the spacecraft to the heroic efforts of the Apollo 13 mission crew to return safely home.
Apollo 13 starred Tom Hanks as Commander Jim Lovell, Kevin Bacon as Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert, Bill Paxton as Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise, and Ed Harris as Flight Director Gene Kranz, who led the efforts from Mission Control to save the crew of the Apollo 13.