VPMC: How to Get to the Moon: Success Lessons from Apollo

Welcome to the VPMC: How to Get to the Moon: Success Lessons from Apollo! This website is intended to provide all of the information you need to prepare for and attend this event. Please explore the website and review the information provided.

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The Virtual PM Challenge will count as continuous learning for NASA PM certification. Please refer to our online FAQ’s for more information see FAQ#2.


Fifty years ago this summer the Apollo program landed humans on the Moon. This technical challenge was the most complex in history, but it took far more than superb engineering to make those first footprints in lunar dust. Space historian Andrew Chaikin, who created and taught the course “Principles of Success in Spaceflight” throughout NASA and the Missile Defense Agency, explores the crucial role that human behaviors play in both success and failure in group endeavors.  

Chaikin will discuss the attitudes, beliefs and assumptions that led to Apollo’s worst day—the fire that killed the Apollo 1 crew inside their spacecraft during a practice countdown on the ground in January 1967—as well as those modes of behavior that allowed NASA to recover from the accident and accomplish Apollo 11’s lunar landing in July 1969. 

Robert Gilruth, the first director of NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center (now the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center) once said, “Someday people are going to try to go back to the moon and they'll find out how hard it really is.” That day has now arrived—and if we are really going back to the Moon, we must heed Apollo’s lesson that the human behavior elements of spaceflight projects can make the difference between success and failure.



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