Former NASA Mission Operations Director Gene Kranz told audience members at last week's Government Technology Conference Southwest in Austin, Texas, that the country needs to make space exploration a priority in this struggling economic climate.

Kranz, who in 1970 led the ground team that guided the troubled crew of Apollo 13 home safely, recounted his experience as flight director for the Apollo 13 mission and others during his time with NASA.

In a question and answer session at the end of his talk, Kranz, said he hopes President Barack Obama's administration places as much emphasis on the space program as the U.S. has in the past, and that such programs are necessary to keep America competitive. Kranz urged the Obama administration to continue the direction set out by NASA administrator Michael Griffin, whose tenure ended Jan. 20. He said that under Griffin, NASA has had its best leader in two decades.

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Video: Watch Apollo 13 flight director Gene Kranz urge continued support for space exploration.


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