Mike Vucelich: Failure Is Not an Option!
After successfully completed mission Mike Vucelic congratulating Gene Kranz in Mission Cotrol Center in Houston, along with Alan Shepard and dr. Robert Gilruth, chief of NASA Manned Spacecraft Center also exchanging congrats (bacgrounds)
In the middle of May we have receiving a very disturbing news: our team's advisor Mike Vucelich, instead of flying to join his wife Inga in Germany and proceed to Croatia to long vacation such all retired people deserve, he was held in hospital due some lungs complication. Later it come out he is going to fight the nasty, life threating enemy. For some time he wouldn't able to advise Team Synergy Moon, and surely he will be missed during this phase of our efforts to compete for Google Lunar X Prize.
Mike Vucelich actively supported our efforts and plans, overviewing our concepts, discussing the plans, suggesting improvements, travelling to visit our facilities. Lot of his ideas resolved our doubts, including a trajectory issues making us to decide for direct approach to the Moon, and avoiding the orbiting before the descent.
In discussion his eagernes, vivacious and perky approach caused inspiration to all of sun and even envy for having such a spirit in such later years.
He started as a graduated engineer on the field of aviation on today's Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture on Zagreb University. Very early he and Anton Tony Cvjetković, his best friend from childhood, and later best man for him and Inga, left to Germany to work for Mercedes Benz and Ford Motor Company and Cessna, but soon they both were "kidnapped" to work for North American and Rockwell. The have proven themselves on several demanding projects, including the top military and experimental airplanes, and they both were in early sixties transferred to work for NASA's Apollo program. They both had important role on final stage of Saturn rocket and Command/Service module.
Because of Mike's communication and social skills he was delegated in North Ameican's quote of NASA manned Spacecraft Center (now JSC) and Mission Control in Houston during missions execution.
He was in charge for Mission Control shift in the moment when Jim Lovell of the Apollo XIII crew reported the blood-freezing sentence: "Houston, we have a problem!" due the explosion od oxygen tank. He was the one who declared state of alert, called flight director Gene Kranz to Mission Control and set down to start calculations on how to manage the rescue procedures. The Command/Service module was on trans lunar trajectory and the White Team had only four hours to calculate the rescue manoeuvre and the procedure to get the crew back anger the phrase "Failure is not an option!"
Later he has proven himself in diplomatic mission, travelling to Yugoslavia and asking president Tito to make the contact with Soviet authorities to make happen joint US-Soviet project Apollo-Soyuz. Speaking fluently english, croatia, german and russian learnt in school days in homeland) he led the negotiation with Russians, and, by the way, making warm friendships with generals Beregovoy and Leonov.
It was the last project for the whole generation of rocket scientists, including Wernher von Braun and Kurt Debus which prepared everything for first manned orbital station Skylab. for some years he continued to work with Rockwell Corporation, ATT international, Bell Labs, Lucent Techologies...
As a vivid spirit he continued to look for further engineering challenges, and his biggest achievement as a retired scientist was in year 1986 the purchase of almost bankrupted Ideal Electric Holding Company in Mansfield, Ohio, making it not only highly profitable, but a very decent place to work and live for everybody. Turning this company in market leader in medium power generators for gas, steam and hydro turbines and diesel engines, his second big achievement was honoured by The General Assembly of the State of Ohio to induct him in year 2005 in the Ohio Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame.
His passion for flying and Space never stopped burning even in late years. Not only to mention his engagement with the Team Synergy Moon, he was among the veteran aviator in Aeroklub Zagreb who initiated the building of Butterfly, replica of the first airplane designed and constructed in Croatia by great inventor Slavoljub Penkala and flied in June 1910. in Zagreb by Dragutin Novak. This sexy old-fashioned bird was the main attraction on the Zagreb Air Show in 2010 commemorating the century of aviation in his homeland.
So, we really wish to Mike all the best for his recovery, because there are a lot of things to do and achieve.
And we know that this state, standing in front of challenge, is something he likes the best.
Go, get it, old boy!
Check Mike Vucelich in this video visiting Interorbital Systems in Mojave, Ca., accompanied his old friend from Rockwell and NASA Harry Scott chatting with Randa and Rod Milliron