Gene Krantz: The “1201” and “1202” were two program alarms we learned about in our final day of training for the Apollo 11 team deployed to the Cape [Kennedy]. We made a wrong call in simulation, and didn’t understand the nature and significance of the alarms. So we sent the team back to work overnight to come up to speed with implications of the alarms on the mission and the LM [Lunar Module] guidance computer during the process of going down to the Moon. The amazing thing was this was our final training run. Normally final training is a graduation ceremony, but the instructors didn’t treat it that way. We thought we weren’t quite ready. When the real mission came along, we had come up to speed on what the program alarms meant. And, right in the battle of getting the crew down to the surface, we saw the alarms. We knew exactly what to do, continued the mission and landed on the Moon with less than 17 seconds of fuel remaining.
JC: In the Apollo movies, everyone looks to one young guy for a signal whether to abort or continue when those alarms come on.
The average age of my entire team at Mission Control was 26. That was a young man by the name of Steve Bales. He knew exactly what to say. We were all glued to our own consoles because we had a lot of other problems at the same time. We knew we were going to be landing long, we had trajectory changes, we were waiting to get our landing radar in. We also had a minor electrical problem – communications weren’t all up to snuff – so we had our hands full.