OKLAHOMA CITY — In the early days of NASA and the space program, many Oklahomans had critical jobs to protect astronauts and make sure their missions were a success.

Bill Bates monitored Neil Armstrong’s portable life support system as he stepped out of the lunar lander.

John Aaron solved a computer issue that threatened Apollo 12 moments after launch, and oversaw electrical power use during the Apollo 13 crisis.

W.W. “Woody” Wilson ran an engineering shop that built tools for the lunar missions. Tom Weichel handled abort procedures and was the flight controller in charge of calculating retrorocket burns.

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