Legendary NASA astronauts descend on Space Center Houston to toast new Apollo 13 statue

HOUSTON, Texas -- For a few hours on a cloudy Saturday, April 17, titans walked among mere mortals at Space Center Houston.

Fifty-one years to the day of their historic splashdown, Apollo 13 NASA astronauts Jim Lovell and Fred Haise greeted a bronze statue celebrating their momentous return to Earth after almost six harrowing days and near catastrophe.

The two surviving astronauts (the third, Jack Swigert, died in 1982 at age 51 of cancer), were joined by Apollo 13 flight directors Gene Kranz, Gerry Griffin, and Milton Windler. (Another flight director, Glynn Lunney, passed away on March 19.)

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