Engineers Week

Black and gold graphic bar
  Feb. 6, 2007

Sean Kearns
Media Relations Director
(323) 343-3050
Margie Yu
Public Affairs Specialist
(323) 343-3047



Cal State L.A. 
Office of Public Affairs 
(323) 343-3050 
Fax: (323) 343-6405

Attention Calendar Editors: See event-listing below release.
NASA photos (copyright-free) of Apollo 13 are available here: /sites/default/files/univ/ppa/SC/nasa/

Apollo 13 flight controller to land
at Cal State L.A. Feb. 20

Remember "‘Houston, we'’ve had a problem"’?
This CSULA alumnus helped handle it

Author Sy Liebergot will sign
‘Apollo EECOM: Journey of a Lifetime’ after talk

Los Angeles, CA – With the Apollo 13 spacecraft facing unthinkable disaster as it headed to the moon, back at Mission Control Sy Liebergot made the call: abandon the moon landing and just return home safely.

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, Liebergot will return to his alma mater, Cal State L.A., to describe the Apollo 13 rescue and other Mission Control experiences in the keynote address for the University’s National Engineers Week activities. The lecture, which is free, will be at 2 p.m. in the Golden Eagle Ballroom.

On April 13, 1970, Apollo 13 was 56 hours—and 200,000 miles—into its trip to make the third manned landing on the moon when one of its two oxygen tanks exploded, causing the remaining tank to leak oxygen into space and prompting astronaut Jack Swigert to utter one of space history’s most famous lines: “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

As the lead EECOM (electrical, environmental, sequential systems engineer) flight controller, Liebergot was at the console at Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston with the responsibility for ending Apollo 13’s mission to the moon’s surface and starting the fight for survival. About three and a half days later, the crew landed safely in the ocean.

Copies of his of autobiography, Apollo EECOM: Journey of a Lifetime, will be available for purchase ($20) and signing from 3:30-4:30 p.m. following the talk.

Liebergot, now an author and space historian, graduated from Cal State L.A. with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1963. In the Academy Award-winning movie Apollo 13, Liebergot was portrayed by Clint Howard.

After graduating from Cal State L.A., Liebergot began his career with North American Aviation in Downey at the inception of the Apollo lunar program. Soon he was in Houston, Texas, making a move to NASA to qualify for a “front-room” flight controller position in Mission Control. As he puts it, “to get in on the action.”

He served as assistant flight director on AS-501 (the first Saturn V launch), as lead EECOM flight controller on all Apollo manned missions, as the EECOM for the Skylab missions and, on the international scene, as lead EECOM for the American-Russian Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. He also contributed to the early shuttle missions. As a senior project engineer, he directed the design and fabrication of the astronaut neutral buoyancy trainers for the International Space Station (ISS).

For more on Liebergot’s background, go to

For other National Engineers Week activities at Cal State L.A. (Feb. 17-23), visit

Calendar listing:

Apollo 13 Flight Controller to keynote
Cal State L.A. Engineers Week

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007, 2 p.m.

Golden Eagle Ballroom, California State University, Los Angeles, 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles, 90032

Admission is free. Public permit dispenser parking available at Lots C and G or upper level of Parking Structure 2.

For details:
Cal State L.A.’s College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology, (323) 343-4500.

A free public lecture about Apollo 13 by Sy Liebergot, former NASA Mission Control flight controller and author of Apollo EECOM: Journey of a Lifetime. In April 1970, with the Apollo 13 spacecraft facing disaster as it headed to the moon, back at Mission Control Liebergot, a Cal State L.A. alumnus, made the call: Abandon the moon landing and just return home safely. After his lecture, he will sign copies of his book.

Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 190,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 12. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH- and Rockefeller-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, to be housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center now under construction.


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