A grateful NASA today welcomed a direct order from president Nixon instructing Houston that the White House would immediately take charge of the Apollo 13 rescue effort.
"The White House Switchboard is ready for the challenge," says Secretary of Transportation, John A Volpe. "We are taking over direct communication with the astronauts, and will be relaying messages from them to Houston and back. The president will be reviewing these messages, and will also be using the Oval Office as a test lab to find solutions for the astronauts."
President Nixon was in the middle of signing his newly created Environmental Protection Agency into law when he told the assembled dignitaries that he could see no other solution.
"A well known corollary to the 'If the president does it, it is right' rule, is that a president can do no wrong. Which means that I am probably the best person available to solve NASA's problems. I therefore intend to do precisely that, starting now."
White House officials scrambled to set "wheels and dials" in motion, to demonstrate the correctly calibrated degree of leadership that would satisfy critics in the media and increasingly incensed partisans, who have expressed that Nixon should have taken the reins the moment the astronauts radioed "Houston, we have a problem."
To the surprise of many, Nixon named Donald Rumsfeld, his newly appointed director of The Office of Economic Opportunity, to head the White House effort together with him.
"Donald is a resourceful man with the kind of spark this job needs," said Nixon. "And there's little doubt that the solutions the White House come up with will be of benefit to future space missions, both American and foreign, and are therefore an economic opportunity, if ever there was one."
The White House has already spoken with the astronauts, who are seeking refuge in the lunar lander while awaiting help. "We expect to have a solution ready by the time they emerge from the backside of the moon," says Rumsfeld.
White House can-do man Donald Rumsfeld together with president Nixon, as they present solutions to astronauts eager for one. The two brainstormed all morning today and had several surprising ideas for the Apollo 13 crew.