Posted on April 13, 2022
This is an update of my post published on April 13, 2011:
Apollo 13, on the 13th of April, 1970:
Oxygen Tank No. 2 exploded.
Oxygen Tank No. 1 also failed.
Three astronauts—close to their intended mission of landing on the moon, but about 200,000 miles away from Earth—were suddenly left with a spaceship that had lost its normal supply of electricity, light, heat, and water.
Astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise reported the bad news to Mission Control, in Houston, Texas, just after they had wished everyone a nice evening and said goodnight.
The astronauts had to use the resources of the Lunar Module as a “lifeboat”...
|This is Swigert helping to jury-rig equipment |
to keep the astronauts alive.
...and they had to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, following directions that engineers radioed from Mission Control.
Finally, after six long days in cold, dim, hardship conditions, with Haise suffering from a urinary tract infection due to lack of water, the astronauts reached Earth, safely re-entered the atmosphere, and splashed down.
Naturally, the Apollo 13 astronauts didn't get to land and walk on the moon, as they'd planned. As a matter of fact, none of the three were ever able to go back to the moon. Jim Lovell had earlier flown with Apollo 8 to the moon and back to Earth (no problems on that flight--but it was never meant to land) -- so he is the only person ever to have flown to the moon twice and never landed.
The best way to celebrate NASA's most dramatic “successful failure,” IMO, is to watch the movie Apollo 13, starring Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell.
You may want to check some movie discussion resources, found here.
If you can't get the movie, you could read About-dot-com's interesting account of the mission here.
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