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Apollo 13

Preceded by: Apollo 12 - Followed by: Apollo 14

Apollo 13 was an American space mission, part of the Apollo program. It was intended to be the third mission to land on the Moon.

Launched: April 11, 1970
Returned: April 17, 1970
Crew members: Jim Lovell[?], commander; Jack Swigert[?], command module pilot; Fred Haise[?], lunar module pilot.
Command module: Odyssey
Lunar module: Aquarius
Intended lunar landing site: Fra Mauro highlands

An oxygen tank in the Service Module exploded while the spacecraft was on its way to the Moon, requiring the mission to be aborted: the Moon landing was cancelled and only a single pass around the Moon was made. Considerable ingenuity under extreme pressure was required from both the crew and the ground controllers to figure out how to jury-rig the craft for the crew's safe return, with much of the world watching the drama on television.

Reentry in the Earth's atmosphere required the unusual step of undocking the lunar module, which had been retained for the flight back to Earth, in addition to the separation of the damaged service module. The lunar module had remained attached to the spacecraft to provide emergency propulsion and life support. The crew returned unharmed on the Earth.

Jim Lovell[?]'s book about the mission, Lost Moon, was later turned into a successful movie, Apollo 13, starring Tom Hanks. The movie is reasonably faithful to the facts of the mission but adds some tension between the astronauts for dramatic effect. Scenes involving weightlessness were filmed aboard NASA's astronaut training aircraft which creates weightless conditions for short periods by performing a series of parabolic dives.

Mission notes:

  • Swigert was a replacement for Ken Mattingly[?], who later flew to the Moon aboard Apollo 16. Mattingly was exposed to the measles prior to the mission, and NASA officials insisted upon removing him from the flight so as not to endanger the mission.

Famous quote: "Houston, we have a problem"


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