Apollo 13 – Facts, Timeline & Movie

Apollo 13 – Facts, Timeline & Movie


  1. Apollo 13 Mission
  2. “Houston, we had a problem …”
  3. How the crew of Apollo 13 survived
  4. The distance farthest from Earth reached by humans
  5. Apollo 13 crew returns to Earth
  6. Apollo 13 movie

Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the Apollo Space program (1961-1975) and was to be the third lunar landing mission, but the three astronauts on board never reached the moon. Instead, the crew and ground control team rushed into a mind-boggling rescue mission. On April 13, 1970, an oxygen tank on board exploded. Ground control in Houston rushed to develop an emergency plan as millions of people around the world watched and the lives of three astronauts were at stake: Commander James A. Lovell Jr., the pilot of Fred W. Haise Jr. lunar module and John L Swigert control module pilot.

Apollo 13 - facts, timeline & movie
Apollo 13 – facts, timeline & movie

Apollo 13 Mission

April 11, 1970, Apollo 13 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. On board were astronauts James Lovell, John “Jack” Swigert and Fred Haise. Their mission was to reach the highlands of Fra Mauro’s moon and explore the Imbrium basin, carrying out geological experiments along the way.

WATCH: Apollo 13: Modern Wonders on Vault HISTORY

“Houston, we had a problem …”

9:00 p.m. EST April 13 Apollo 13 was more than 200,000 miles from Earth. The crew had just finished a television program and was inspecting Aquarius, the landing module (LM). The next day, Apollo 13 was to enter the orbit of the moon. Lovell and Haise were to become the fifth and sixth men to walk on the moon.

It shouldn’t be. At 9:08 p.m., approximately 56 hours of flight time, a explosion rocked the spacecraft. The No. 2 oxygen tank had exploded, preventing the regular supply of oxygen, electricity, light and water. Lovell reported to mission control: “Houston, we had a problem here.” The control module (CM) lost oxygen and quickly lost fuel cells. The moon landing mission was interrupted.

LISTEN ON APPLE PODCASTS: “Houston, we had a problem”

How the crew of Apollo 13 survived

An hour after the explosion, mission control instructed the crew to proceed to the LM, which had sufficient oxygen, and to use it as a lifeboat. The LM was designed only to transport CM astronauts into orbit to the surface of the moon and vice versa; his diet was supposed to support two people for 45 hours. If the crew of the Apollo 13 were to return to Earth alive, the LM was to support three men for at least 90 hours and successfully navigate over 200,000 miles of space.

Conditions on board the LM were difficult. The crew took a fifth of water rations and underwent cabin temperatures a few degrees above freezing to save energy. The CM’s lithium hydroxide square tanks were not compatible with the round openings of the LM environmental system, which meant that the removal of carbon dioxide had become a problem. Mission control constructed an impromptu adapter from materials known to be on board, and the crew successfully copied their model.

Navigation was also extremely complicated; the LM had a more rudimentary navigation system, and the astronauts and mission control had to manually determine the changes in propulsion and direction necessary to bring the spacecraft home.

April 14, Apollo 13 turned around the moon. Swigert and Haise took photos and Lovell spoke with mission control of the most difficult maneuver, a five-minute engine burn that would give the LM enough speed to get home before its energy was depleted. Two hours after bypassing the far side of the moon, the crew, using the sun as their point of alignment, set fire to the LM’s small descent engine. The procedure was successful; Apollo 13 was on the way home.

The distance farthest from Earth reached by humans

On April 15, 1970, Apollo 13 was 254 km (158 miles) from the lunar surface on the other side of the moon – and 400,171 km (248,655 miles) above the surface of the Earth, which means that the Apollo 13 crew set a Guinness world record for the furthest distance from Earth reached by humans.

Apollo 13 crew returns to Earth

Lovell, Haise and Swigert huddled in the cold lunar module for three long days. Under these dismal conditions, Haise caught the flu. On April 17, a last-minute correction was made to navigation using the Earth as an alignment guide. Then the repressurized CM was successfully energized. An hour before entering the Earth’s atmosphere, the LM was disengaged from the CM.

Just before 1 p.m. on April 17, 1970, the spacecraft entered the Earth’s atmosphere. Mission control feared that the CM heat shields would be damaged in the accident and waited four painful minutes without radio communication from the crew. So, Apollo 13The parachutes were spotted. All three the astronauts dived safely in the Pacific Ocean.

Apollo 13 movie

Although Apollo 13 did not land on the moon, the heroism of the crew and the rapid thought of mission control were widely celebrated as a success. It was even included in the 1995 film Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon.

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