Apollo 13: Wikis


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Apollo 13
Mission insignia
Apollo 13-insignia.png
Mission statistics[1]
Mission name Apollo 13
Command Module CM-109
callsign Odyssey
mass 28,945 kg
Service Module SM-109
Lunar Module LM-7
callsign Aquarius
mass 15,235 kg
Crew size 3
Booster Saturn V SA-508
Launch pad LC 39A
Kennedy Space Center
Florida, USA
Launch date April 11, 1970
19:13:00 UTC
Lunar landing Cancelled due to damage from oxygen tank rupture
Number of lunar orbits 1[2]
Landing April 17, 1970
18:07:41 UTC
21°38′24″S 165°21′42″W / 21.64°S 165.36167°W / -21.64; -165.36167 (Apollo 13 splashdown)
Mission duration 5 d 22 h 54 m 41 s
Crew photo
Apollo 13 Prime Crew.jpg
Left to right: Lovell, Swigert, Haise
Related missions
Previous mission Next mission
Apollo 12 insignia art.jpg Apollo 12 Apollo 14-insignia.png Apollo 14
Original crew photo.
Left to right: Lovell, Mattingly, Haise.

Apollo 13 was the third Apollo mission intended to land on the Moon, but a mid-mission oxygen tank rupture caused sufficient damage to force the lunar landing to be aborted. The flight was commanded by James A. Lovell, with John L. "Jack" Swigert command module pilot, and Fred W. Haise lunar module pilot.

The mission launched on April 11, 1970 at 13:13 CST. Two days later, en route to the Moon, a fault in the electrical system of one of the Service Module's oxygen tanks produced an overpressure rupture which caused a loss of electrical power and failure of both oxygen tanks. The command module remained functional on its own batteries and oxygen tank, which were only designed to support the vehicle during the last hours of flight. The crew shut down the Command Module and used the Lunar Module as a "lifeboat" during the return trip to earth. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, and a shortage of potable water, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17, and the mission was termed a "successful failure."[3] A misquotation of the radio transmission made by Swigert and repeated by Lovell ("...Houston, we've had a problem...") has become widely quoted in popular culture as "Houston, we have a problem."[4]



Position Astronaut
Commander James A. Lovell, Jr.
Fourth spaceflight
Command Module Pilot John L. Swigert
First spaceflight
Lunar Module Pilot Fred W. Haise, Jr.
First spaceflight

Ken Mattingly was originally slated to be the command module pilot. After being exposed to rubella (German measles) contracted by backup Lunar Module pilot Charles Duke—a disease to which Mattingly was not immune—he was replaced by Swigert three days before launch.[5] Mattingly never contracted rubella, and he later flew as command module pilot of Apollo 16, which was the 5th mission to land on the moon.

Backup crew

Position Astronaut
Commander John W. Young
Lunar Module Pilot Charles M. Duke, Jr

John L. Swigert, the backup command module pilot, was moved to the prime crew three days before launch, and no replacement backup was assigned.

Support crew

Flight directors

Mission parameters

O2 tank rupture event

  • April 14, 1970, 03:07:53 UTC[7] {April 13, 21:07:53 CST}
    • 321,860 km (199,995 mi) from Earth

Closest approach to Moon

  • April 15, 1970, 00:21:00 UTC
    • 254.3 km (158.0 mi) (possibly a record; see Mission notes below)

Mission highlights

Apollo 13 launches from Kennedy Space Center, April 11, 1970.

The Apollo 13 mission was to explore the Fra Mauro formation, or Fra Mauro highlands, named after the 80-kilometer-diameter Fra Mauro crater located within it. It is a widespread, hilly geological (or selenological) area thought to be composed of ejecta from the impact that formed Mare Imbrium. The cost of the mission was $4.4 billion. The next Apollo mission, Apollo 14, eventually made a successful flight to Fra Mauro.

The mission began with a little known malfunction: during the second-stage boost, the center (inboard) engine shut down two minutes early. The four outboard engines burned longer to compensate, and the vehicle continued to a successful orbit. The shutdown was determined to be due to dangerous pogo oscillations that might have torn the second stage apart. The engine experienced 68g vibrations at 16 hertz, flexing the thrust frame by 3 inches (76 mm).[8] The engine shutdown was triggered by sensed thrust chamber pressure fluctuations.[9] Smaller pogo oscillations had been seen on previous Titan and Saturn flights (notably Apollo 6), but on Apollo 13 they were amplified by an unexpected interaction with turbopump cavitation.[10] Later missions implemented anti-pogo modifications that had been under development. These included addition of a helium gas reservoir to the center engine liquid oxygen line to dampen pressure oscillations, an automatic cutoff as a backup, and simplification of the propellant valves of all five second-stage engines.

Oxygen tank rupture

Problems listening to this file? See media help.
Apollo 13's damaged Service Module, as photographed from the Command Module after being jettisoned.
Interior of the Lunar Module, showing the "mailbox" built to adapt the Command Module's lithium hydroxide canisters (designed to reduce build-up of carbon dioxide) to fit the LM's environmental systems as most of the LM's supply of canisters were stored outside the cabin where they would ordinarily be retrieved during EVA.

En route to the moon, 321,860 kilometers (199,990 mi) from Earth, the number two oxygen tank, one of two in the Service Module (SM), ruptured.[11] Mission Control had asked the crew to stir the hydrogen and oxygen tanks, destratifying the contents and increasing the accuracy of their quantity readings. Damaged Teflon insulation on the wires to the stirrer motor in oxygen tank 2 allowed them to short and ignite the insulation. The resulting fire rapidly increased pressure beyond its nominal 1,000 psi (7 MPa) limit and either the tank or the tank dome failed. The cause was unknown at the time and the crew initially thought that a meteoroid might have struck the Lunar Module (LM).

The failure also damaged either the number one oxygen tank or its plumbing. Its contents leaked out over the next several hours, entirely depleting the SM supply. Because the service module fuel cells combined hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity and water, they shut down and left the command module (CM) on limited battery power. The crew was forced to shut down the CM completely and to use the LM, still attached to the Command/Service Module (CSM),[12] as a "lifeboat". This had been suggested during an earlier training simulation but had not been considered a likely scenario.[13] Without the LM,[14] the accident would certainly have been fatal.[citation needed]

The damage to the service module made safe return from a lunar landing impossible. With Mission Control's decision to fly a circumlunar abort, the moon's gravity was used to return the ship to Earth. Apollo 13 had initially been on a free return trajectory that would have automatically resulted in a return to Earth with no additional engine firings, but the planned lunar landing at Fra Mauro required leaving the free return trajectory early in the mission. Returning to the free return trajectory required a significant change that would have been a small burn with the SM Service Propulsion System engine, but the condition of the engine was unknown. After extensive discussion, the return to a free return trajectory was performed with the LM descent propulsion system within hours of the accident. The descent engine was fired again two hours after pericynthion (closest approach to the moon) for a PC+2 burn to speed the return. One more descent engine burn was later required for a minor course correction.

Considerable ingenuity under extreme pressure was required from the crew, flight controllers and support personnel for the safe return. Much of the world watched the developing drama on television.[15] Because electrical power was severely limited, no more live TV broadcasts were made; TV commentators used models and animated footage as illustrations. Low power levels made even voice communications difficult.

The LM "lifeboat" consumables were intended only to sustain two people for two days, not three people for four days. However, oxygen was the least critical consumable because the LM carried enough to repressurize the LM after each surface EVA. Unlike the CSM, which was powered by fuel cells that produced water as a byproduct, the LM was powered by silver-zinc batteries so electrical power and especially water were critical consumables. To keep the LM life support and communication systems operational until re-entry, the LM was powered down to the lowest levels possible.

Another serious limitation was lithium hydroxide (LiOH) for removing carbon dioxide. The LM's internal stock of LiOH canisters was not sufficient to support the crew until return, and the remainder was stored in the descent stage, out of reach. The CM had an adequate supply of canisters, but these were incompatible with the LM. Ground controllers improvised a way to join the cube-shaped CM canisters to the LM's circular canister-sockets by drawing air through them with a suit return hose. The astronauts called the jury-rigged device "the mailbox."[16]

The thermal design of the spacecraft assumed normal operating power levels, so the survival power level caused internal temperatures to drop considerably. Water condensed in the CM, causing concern that this might damage electrical systems when it was reactivated. This turned out not to be a problem, partly because of the extensive CM safeguards instituted after the Apollo 1 fire.

As Apollo 13 neared Earth, the crew first jettisoned the Service Module so pictures could be taken for later analysis. The crew reported that the Sector 3 panel enclosing the fuel cells, hydrogen, and oxygen tanks was missing for the entire length of the SM.

After jettisoning the lunar module Aquarius, command module Odyssey splashed down safely in the Pacific. The crew was in good condition except for Haise who was suffering from a serious urinary tract infection because of insufficient water intake. To avoid altering the trajectory of the spacecraft, the crew had been instructed to temporarily stop urine dumps. A misunderstanding prompted the crew to store all urine for the rest of the flight.[17]

Although the damage forced the decision to abort the mission, it is fortunate it happened on the way to the moon when the LM was still available with its full complement of consumables. Had the tank rupture occurred after the lunar landing or during the return to earth after the LM had been jettisoned, the crew would not have survived. In that sense, the crew's lives may have been saved by the same malfunction that caused the danger. At around 46h 40m into the mission, the oxygen tank 2 quantity gauge went "off-scale high" (reading over 100%) and stayed there, possibly due to the damaged internal insulation. To assist in determining the cause, the crew was asked to perform cryo-tank stirs more often than originally planned. In the original mission plan, the stir that ruptured the tank would not have been done until after the lunar landing.[18]

Control panel room with a half-dozen men in business clothes. One holds out a box about 0.3 meters square; another a tube that snakes down from the box. The others look at the box.
The "mailbox" at Mission Control during the Apollo 13 mission. 
Diagram showing the comlete Apollo 13 circumlunar trajectory
The circumlunar trajectory followed by Apollo 13 
Dark fuzzy image with a streak of light terminating in a glowing dot
Apollo 13 service module and lunar lander reentering and breaking up in the atmosphere. 

Cause of the accident

The crew of Apollo 13 onboard the USS Iwo Jima following splashdown

The tank rupture on Apollo 13 led to a lengthy investigation which, based on detailed manufacturing records and logs, determined the cause of the tank failure an unlikely chain of events. Tanks storing cryogens, such as liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, require either venting, extremely good insulation, or both, in order to avoid excessive pressure buildup due to vaporization. The Service Module oxygen tanks were so well insulated that they could safely contain supercritical hydrogen and oxygen for years. Each oxygen tank held several hundred pounds of oxygen, which was used for breathable air and the production of electricity and water. However, the construction of the tank made internal inspection of the tank impossible.

The tank contained several components relevant to the accident:

  • a quantity sensor;
  • a fan to stir the tank contents for more accurate quantity measurements;
  • a heater to vaporize liquid oxygen as needed;
  • a thermostat to protect the heater;
  • a temperature sensor;
  • fill and drain valves and piping.

The heater and protection thermostat were originally designed for the command module's 28-volt DC bus. The specifications for the heater and thermostat were later changed to allow a 65-volt ground supply, in order to pressurize the tanks more rapidly. Beechcraft, the tank subcontractor, did not upgrade the thermostat to handle the higher voltage. The temperature sensor could not read above the highest operational temperature of the heater, which was approximately 100 °F (38 °C). This was not normally a problem because the thermostat was designed to open at 80 °F (27 °C).

The oxygen shelf carrying the oxygen tanks was originally installed in the Apollo 10 service module, but was removed to fix a potential electromagnetic interference problem. During removal, the shelf was accidentally dropped about 2 inches (5 cm) because a retaining bolt had not been removed. The tank appeared to be undamaged, but a loosely-fitting filling tube was apparently damaged, and photographs suggested that the close-out cap on the top of the tank may have hit the fuel cell shelf. The report of the Apollo 13 review board considers the probability of tank damage during this incident to be "rather low".[19]

After the tank was filled for ground testing, it could not be emptied through the normal drain line. To avoid delaying the mission by replacing the tank, the heater was connected to 65-volt ground power to boil-off the oxygen. Lovell signed off on this procedure. It should have taken a few days at the thermostatic opening temperature of 80 °F (27 °C). However, when the thermostat opened, the 65-volt supply fused its contacts closed and the heater remained powered.

This raised the temperature of the heater to an estimated 1,000 °F (540 °C). A chart recorder on the heater current showed that the heater was not cycling on and off, as it should have been if the thermostat was functioning correctly, but no one noticed it at the time. Because the temperature sensor could not read higher than 100 °F (38 °C), the monitoring equipment did not register the true temperature inside the tank.[20] The gas evaporated in hours rather than days.

The sustained high temperatures melted the Teflon insulation on the fan power supply wires and left them exposed. When the tank was refilled with oxygen, it became a bomb waiting to go off. During the "cryo stir" procedure, fan power passed through the bare wires which apparently shorted, producing sparks and igniting the Teflon. This in turn boiled liquid oxygen faster than the tank vent could remove it.

The other oxygen tank or its piping, located near the failed tank, was damaged, allowing it to leak also. Design fixes included moving the tanks farther apart, and removing the stirring fans. This required adding a third tank, so that no tank would go below half full. An emergency battery was also added to another sector in the service module.


Established procedure for alleviating high pressure in a cryogenic oxygen tank.

In June 1970, the Cortright Report provided an in-depth analysis of the mission in an extremely detailed five-chapter report with eight appendices. It showed a copy of established NASA procedures for alleviating high pressure in a cryogenic oxygen tank, to include:

Abort options following the tank rupture incident.

- Turning the four tank heaters and fans off,
- Pulling the two heater circuit breakers to open to remove the energy source,
- Performing a 2-minute purge, or directly opening the O2 valve.

Telemetered parameters of the oxygen tank rupture incident, with inset image of pressure relief valve.

This procedure was designed to prevent hardware failure so that the lunar landing mission could be continued. However, the EECOM Mission Report (on pg E-10) recounts how the master caution and warning alarm had been turned off for a previous low pressure reading on hydrogen tank 2, and so it did not trigger to call attention to the high oxygen pressure reading.

The primary return mode, the Direct Abort trajectory, was not chosen for the given reason that the integrity of the Service Module engine was suspect after the oxygen tank "explosion".

Given the decision to abort the mission following the damage sustained by the tank rupture, the primary mode for returning the crew to Earth was the Direct Abort trajectory. Mission Control rejected this option with the given reason being a lack of confidence in the Service Propulsion System (SPS) engine following the tank rupture in Sector 4 of the Service Module where the fuel cells, hydrogen and oxygen tanks were located.

There is a ubiquitous misconception about Apollo 13 that the oxygen tank "exploded". If such were the case, then damage to various systems outside of Sector 4 of the Service Module might be expected. However, the Cortright Report presents a wealth of data to show that the tank rupture was not an explosion. It details how the spacecraft pressure vessels were designed with redundant safety measures, like pressure relief valves and rupture discs, to prevent them from exploding. The report concluded that the loud bang heard by the crew was probably the Service Module panel separating. (SM panel jettison, with its loud thump, was a planned event on Apollo 15, 16 and 17 for the purpose of exposing scientific instruments.) Appendix F of the report explains how the investigation team recreated the tank failure, and that after the limits of the proper operation of the pressure relief valve were reached, it was the oxygen system conduit that ruptured. There was no tank explosion.

A little known fact is that the oxygen tank was not the only pressure vessel that failed during this mission. Prior to the O2 tank rupture, the crew had moved forward their scheduled entry into the Lunar Module by three hours. This was done so that they could get an earlier look at the pressure reading of the supercritical helium (SHe) tank in the LM descent stage, which had been suspect since before launch. After the abort decision, the helium pressure continued to rise and Mission Control predicted the time that the burst disc would rupture. The helium tank burst disc ruptured at 108:54, after the lunar flyby. The expulsion reversed the direction of the passive thermal control (PTC) roll (nicknamed the "barbeque roll").[21] Otherwise this second tank rupture event was so benign that it is scarcely remembered.

While the investigation board did recreate the oxygen tank failure, they did not report on any experiments that would show how effective the Cryogenic Malfunctions Procedures were to prevent the system failure by de-energizing the electrical heater and fan circuits. The report, while extremely detailed in many areas, also gives little analysis on the alternative abort options that were available to bring the crew home earlier. The selected leader for the investigation, Edgar M. Cortright, was the college fraternity brother of the NASA Deputy Administrator, George Low.[22]

Mission notes

The crew of Apollo 13 with President Richard Nixon after being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

By the standard crew rotation in place during the Apollo program, the prime crew for Apollo 13 should have been the backup crew for Apollo 10 with Mercury and Gemini veteran L. Gordon Cooper in command. That crew was composed of

However, Deke Slayton recollected in his memoirs that Cooper and Eisele were never intended to rotate to another mission as both were out of favor with NASA management for various reasons (Cooper for his lax attitude towards training and Eisele for incidents aboard Apollo 7 and an extra-marital affair) and were assigned to the backup crew simply because of a lack of flight-qualified manpower in the Astronaut Office at the time the assignment needed to be made. Cooper, Slayton noted, had a very small chance of receiving the Apollo 13 command if he did an outstanding job with the assignment, which he didn't. Eisele, despite his issues with management, was always intended for future assignment to the Apollo Applications Program (which was eventually cut down to only the Skylab component) and not a lunar mission.[23]

Thus, the original assignment for this flight submitted by Slayton to his superiors was

However, for the first time ever, Slayton's recommendation was rejected by management because they felt that Shepard, who had only recently benefited from experimental surgery to correct an inner ear disorder and had not flown since 1961 needed more time to properly train for a lunar flight. Thus, Lovell's crew, backup for the historic Apollo 11 mission, which had been targeted for (by virtue of the rotation) Apollo 14, was swapped for Shepard's crew.[24]

Eight days before the launch, Apollo 13 backup lunar module pilot Charlie Duke contracted German measles from one of his children. Although Lovell and Haise had rubella as children, command module pilot Ken Mattingly had not, and the flight surgeons replaced him with his backup, Jack Swigert. Mattingly never developed rubella, and later flew on Apollo 16, STS-4, and STS-51-C, retiring from both NASA and the U.S. Navy with the rank of Rear Admiral. During the emergency, Mattingly and flight controller John Aaron used the CSM simulator to work up a plan to revive Odyssey using the ship's limited power supply.

Plaque that was to be attached to Aquarius

Also, the original lunar plaque on Aquarius bore Mattingly’s name, so the crew was given a replacement with Swigert’s name on it. Aquarius never landed on the moon, however, so Lovell kept the plaque. In his book Lost Moon (later renamed Apollo 13), Lovell states that apart from the Apollo 13 plaque and a couple of other pieces, the only other memento he possesses is a letter from Charles Lindbergh.

Because Apollo 13 followed the free return trajectory, its altitude over the lunar far side was approximately 100 km (60 mi) greater than the orbital altitude on the remaining Apollo lunar missions. It made the all-time altitude record for human spaceflight. The variation in distance between Earth and the Moon, however, is much larger than 100 km (60 mi), so it is not certain whether the actual distance from Earth was greater than that of other Apollo missions. The Guinness Book of Records lists this flight as holding the absolute altitude record for a manned spacecraft, thus Lovell and crew should have received a certificate attesting to this record.

The splashdown point was 21°38′24″S 165°21′42″W / 21.64°S 165.36167°W / -21.64; -165.36167 (Apollo 13 splashdown), southeast of American Samoa and 6.5 km (4.0 mi) from the recovery ship, USS Iwo Jima.

The A7L spacesuit intended to be worn on the lunar surface by Lovell would have been the first to feature red bands on the arms, legs, lunar EVA helmet assembly, and the life-support backpack. This came about because Mission Control personnel watching the video feeds of Apollos 11 and 12 had trouble distinguishing the astronauts while both had their helmet sunshades down. The red bands were a feature for the remaining Apollo flights and are used on the Extravehicular Mobility Units worn by the astronauts of the Space Shuttle program and on the International Space Station (ISS).

The Apollo 13 mission has been called "a successful failure", because the astronauts were brought home safely notwithstanding the failure of the mission.

The crew and the Apollo 13 Mission Operations Team were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their actions during the mission.

The Cold Cathode Gauge Experiment (CCGE), which was part of the ALSEP on Apollo 13 was never flown again. It was a version of the Cold Cathode Ion Gauge (CCIG) which featured on Apollo 12, Apollo 14, and Apollo 15. The CCGE was designed as a standalone version of the CCIG. On other missions, the CCIG was connected as part of the Suprathermal Ion Detector (SIDE). Because of the aborted landing, this experiment was never actually deployed. Other experiments included on Apollo 13's ALSEP included the Heat Flow Experiment (HFE), the Passive Seismic Experiment (PSE), and the Charged Particle Lunar Environment Experiment (CPLEE).[25]


The Apollo 13 crew patch featured three flying horses as Apollo's 'chariot' across space. Given Lovell's Navy background, the logo also included the mottoes “Ex luna, scientia” ("From the moon, knowledge"), borrowed from the U.S. Naval Academy's motto, "Ex scientia tridens," ("From knowledge, sea power"). The mission number appeared in Roman numerals as Apollo XIII. It is one of two Apollo insignia—the other being Apollo 11—not to include the names of the crew. (This was fortunate, considering that original crew member Ken Mattingly was replaced two days before the mission began.) It was designed by artist Lumen Winter, who based it on a mural he had done for the St. Regis Hotel in New York. The mural was later purchased by actor Tom Hanks, who portrayed Lovell in the movie Apollo 13, and now is on the wall of a restaurant in Chicago owned by Lovell's son.

Spacecraft location

A view of the controls in the command module on display at the Cosmosphere.

The command module shell was formerly at the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace, in Paris. The interior components were removed during the investigation of the accident and reassembled into BP-1102A, the water egress training module, and were subsequently on display at the Museum of Natural History and Science in Louisville, Kentucky, until 2000. The command module and the internal components were reassembled, and Odyssey is currently on display at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas.

A recording of the Apollo 13 S-IVB's impact on the lunar surface as detected by the Apollo 12 Passive Seismic Experiment.

The lunar module burned up in Earth's atmosphere on April 17, 1970, having been targeted to enter over the Pacific Ocean to reduce the possibility of contamination from a SNAP 27 radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) on board. (Had the mission proceeded as planned, the RTG would have been used to power the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package, and then remained on the moon.) The RTG survived re-entry (as designed) and landed in the Tonga Trench. While it will remain radioactive for approximately 2,000 years, it does not appear to be releasing any of its 3.9 kg of radioactive plutonium.[26]

Jim Lovell's lunar space suit helmet is located at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

The Apollo 13 S-IVB with its Instrument Unit was guided to crash onto the lunar surface on April 14, providing a signal for the Apollo 12 Passive Seismic Experiment.

Popular culture

The 1974 movie Houston, We've Got a Problem, while set around the Apollo 13 incident, is a fictional drama about the crises faced by ground personnel, when the emergency disrupts their work schedules and places additional stress on their lives; only a couple of news clips and a narrator's solemn voice deal with the actual problems.

Apollo 13, a film based on Lost Moon, Jim Lovell's and Jeffrey Kluger's book about the event, was released in 1995. It was directed by Ron Howard and starred Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell, Bill Paxton as Fred Haise, Kevin Bacon as Jack Swigert, Ed Harris as flight director Gene Kranz, Kathleen Quinlan as Marilyn Lovell and Gary Sinise as Ken Mattingly. Jim Lovell, Gene Kranz, and other principals have stated that this film depicted the events of the mission with reasonable accuracy, though some dramatic license was taken. Technical inaccuracies have also been noted. The film is among several to misquote Swigert's famous statement, "Houston, we've had a problem".[4] However, the filmmakers purposely changed the line because the original quote made it seem that the problem had already passed.[27] The film was a critical and box office success, and was nominated for several Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Harris) and Best Supporting Actress (Quinlan). The film engendered new interest in the history of the Apollo program and American space flight in general.

Portions of the events surrounding the Apollo 13 mission are dramatized in episode "We Interrupt This Program" of the 1998 miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, co-produced by Ron Howard and Tom Hanks. The story is presented from the perspective of television reporters competing for coverage of the mission.

In 2008, an interactive theatrical show titled APOLLO 13: Mission Control[28] premiered at BATS Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand.[29] The production faithfully recreated the mission control consoles and audience members became part of the storyline. The show also featured a 'guest' astronaut each night - a member of the public who suited up and amongst other duties, stirred the oxygen tanks and said the line "Houston, we've had a problem". This 'replacement' astronaut was a nod to Jack Swigert, who replaced Ken Mattingly shortly before the actual launch in 1970. The production toured to other cities in New Zealand in 2009 and an Australian tour is scheduled for 2010-2011.

"Towing fees"

Grumman Aerospace Corporation, the builder of the Lunar Module, issued an invoice for $312,421.24 to North American Rockwell,[30] the builder of the Command Module (CM), for "towing" the crippled ship most of the way to the moon and back. The invoice included a 20% commercial discount, as well as a further 2% discount if North American were to pay in cash. North American politely declined payment, noting that they had ferried Grumman LMs to the moon on three previous occasions with no such reciprocal charges. The invoice was drawn up by Grumman pilot Sam Greenberg as a gag following Apollo 13's successful splashdown. He had earlier helped with the strategy for re-routing power from the LM to the crippled CM.


  1. ^ Richard W. Orloff. "Apollo by the Numbers: A Statistical Reference (SP-4029)". NASA. http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4029/Apollo_00g_Table_of_Contents.htm. 
  2. ^ Lunar flyby (pericynthion) executed April 15, 1970
    00:21:00 UTC at 254.3 km above lunar surface.
  3. ^ Apollo 13 - A Successful Failure
  4. ^ a b [|Eric Jones]; Test Division - Apollo Spacecraft Program Office (1970-04). "Apollo 13 Technical Air-to-Ground Voice Transcription" (PDF). NASA. p. 160. http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a13/AS13_TEC.PDF. Retrieved October 4, 2007. "Houston, we've had a problem." 
  5. ^ "Astronaut Bio: John L. Swigert". NASA. January 1983. http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/swigert-jl.html. Retrieved August 21, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c d Apollo 13 Mission Operations Report
  7. ^ Apollo 13 Timeline
  8. ^ Apollo 14 Launch Operations (comments on Apollo 13 pogo), Moonport: A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations, NASA
  9. ^ Pogo, Jim Fenwick, Threshold - Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s engineering journal of power technology, Spring 1992
  10. ^ Mitigating Pogo on Liquid-Fueled Rockets, Aerospace Corporation Crosslink magazine, Winter 2004 edition
  11. ^ Note that NASA's offical report (REPORT OF APOLLO 13 REVIEW BOARD) does not itself use the word "explosion" in describing the tank rupture. Rupture disks and other safety measures were present to prevent a catastrophic explosion, and analysis of pressure readings and subsequent ground-testing determined that these safety measures worked as designed. See findings 26 and 27 on page 195 (5-22) of the NASA report.
  12. ^ "Apollo 13 Command and Service Module CSM". NASA. http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/masterCatalog.do?sc=1970-029A. Retrieved October 31, 2009. 
  13. ^ Lovell, Jim, and Jeffrey Kluger. Apollo 13. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. 83-87
  14. ^ "Apollo 13 Lunar Module ALSEP". NASA. http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/masterCatalog.do?sc=1970-029C. Retrieved October 31, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Space Program and Television". The Museum of Broadcast Communication. http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=spaceprogram. Retrieved October 30, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Interior View of the Apollo 13 Lunar Module and the "Mailbox"". January 16, 2007. http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/ABSTRACTS/GPN-2002-000056.html. 
  17. ^ Account of Apollo 13 by James Lovell, NASA website
  18. ^ "THE STIR THAT SAVED THE LIVES OF APOLLO 13's CREW", Jerry Woodfill, retrieved January 27, 2007
  19. ^ report of the Apollo 13 review board
  20. ^ The Apollo 13 Accident
  21. ^ LM Control Officer (Control) Apollo 13 Post-Mission Report, page H-9
  22. ^ Head investigator Cortright was frat brothers at RPI with NASA Deputy Administrator
  23. ^ Donald K. Slayton, "Deke!" (New York: Forge, 1994), 236
  24. ^ Donald K. Slayton, "Deke!" (New York: Forge, 1994), 237
  25. ^ Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP)
  26. ^ "General Safety Considerations" (pdf lecture notes). Fusion Technology Institute, University of Wisconsin–Madison. Spring 2000. http://fti.neep.wisc.edu/neep602/SPRING00/lecture39.pdf. 
  27. ^ "IMDb: Apollo 13 trivia". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112384/trivia. Retrieved May 23, 2009. 
  28. ^ Offical page of the APOLLO 13 production
  29. ^ Theatreview media release and subsequent reviews of the BATS Theatre production of APOLLO 13: Mission Control
  30. ^ Invoice from Grumman Aerospace for towing the North American built CM

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Apollo 13 is a 1995 film about the ill-fated Apollo 13 lunar mission.

Directed by Ron Howard. Written by William Broyles Jr. and Al Reinert, based on the book Lost Moon by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger.
Houston, we have a problem.


Jim Lovell

  • From now on, we live in a world where man has walked on the moon. And it's not a miracle, we just decided to go.

Listen to an original recording of this quote:

  • Gentlemen, it's been a privilege flying with you.

Jack Swigert

  • [looking at the fogged-up instrument panels] It's like tryin' to drive a toaster through a car wash.

Gene Kranz

  • We've never lost an American in space, we're sure as hell not gonna lose one on my watch! Failure is not an option.


Politician: Jim, people in my state are asking why we're continuing to fund this program now that we've beaten the Russians to the moon.
Jim Lovell: Imagine if Christopher Columbus came back from the New World, and no one returned in his footsteps.

Marilyn Lovell: Blanche, Blanche, these nice young men are going to watch the television with you. This is Neil Armstrong, and this is Buzz... Aldrin.
Neil Armstrong: Hi.
Blanche Lovell: Are you boys in the space program too?

Chris Kraft: This could be the worst disaster NASA's ever faced.
Gene Kranz: With all due respect, sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour.

Chris Kraft: He specifically wanted a quote from a flight director.
Gene Kranz: Who wanted a quote?
Glynn Lunney: The President.
Gene Kranz: The President?
Deke Slayton: Nixon. He wants odds.
Gene Kranz: We are not losing the crew.
Chris Kraft: Gene, I gotta give him odds. Five to one against? Three to one?
Glynn Lunney: I don't think they're that good.
Gene Kranz: We are not losing those men!

Henry Hurt: I, uh, I have a request from the news people.
Marilyn Lovell: Uh-huh?
Henry Hurt: They're out front here. They want to put a transmitter up on the lawn.
Marilyn Lovell: Transmitter?
Henry Hurt: Kind of a tower, for live broadcast.
Marilyn Lovell: I thought they didn't care about this mission. They didn't even run Jim's show.
Henry Hurt: Well, it's more dramatic now. Suddenly people are...
Marilyn Lovell: Landing on the moon wasn't dramatic enough for them - why should not landing on it be?
Henry Hurt: Look, I, um, I realize how hard this is, Marilyn, but the whole world is caught up in this, it's historic-...
Marilyn Lovell: No, Henry! Those people don't put one piece of equipment on my lawn. If they have a problem with that, they can take it up with my husband. He'll be home... on Friday!

CAPCOM: Jack, you'll be glad to hear that we've contacted President Nixon, and he's going to grant you an extension on your income taxes, since you are most decidedly out of the country.
Jack Swigert: Roger that, Houston. That's wonderful news.

[Jack Swigert smacks his head on the L.E.M. ceiling]
Jack Swigert: OW! God damn this piece of shit!
Fred Haise: Hey! This piece of shit's gonna get you home. That's cause that's all we got left, Jack!
Jack Swigert: What are you saying, Fred?
Fred Haise: I think you know what I'm saying.
Jack Swigert: Now wait a minute. All I did was stir those tanks.
Fred Haise: What was that gauge reading before you hit the switch?
Jack Swigert: Don't tell me how to fly the damn C.M. --
Fred Haise: You don't even know, do you!?
Jack Swigert: -- they brought me in here to do a job, they asked me to stir the damn tanks and I stirred the tanks!
Jim Lovell: Jack, stop kicking yourself in the ass.
Jack Swigert: This is not my fault!
Jim Lovell: No one is saying it is. If I'm in the left-hand seat when the call comes up, I stir the tanks.
Jack Swigert: Yeah, well, tell him [Haise] that.
Fred Haise: I just asked you what the gauge was reading. And you don't know!
Jim Lovell: All right, we're not doing this, gentlemen, we're not gonna do this. We're not gonna go bouncing off the walls for ten minutes, because we're just gonna end up right back here with the same problems! Try to figure out how to stay alive!

Television Reporter: Is there a specific instance in an airplane emergency when you can recall fear?
Jim Lovell: Uh well, I'll tell ya, I remember this one time - I'm in a Banshee at night in combat conditions, so there's no running lights on the carrier. It was the Shrangri-La, and we were in the Sea of Japan and my radar had jammed, and my homing signal was gone... because somebody in Japan was actually using the same frequency. And so it was - it was leading me away from where I was supposed to be. And I'm lookin' down at a big, black ocean, so I flip on my map light, and then suddenly: zap. Everything shorts out right there in my cockpit. All my instruments are gone. My lights are gone. And I can't even tell now what my altitude is. I know I'm running out of fuel, so I'm thinking about ditching in the ocean. And I, I look down there, and then in the darkness there's this uh, there's this green trail. It's like a long carpet that's just laid out right beneath me. And it was the algae, right? It was that phosphorescent stuff that gets churned up in the wake of a big ship. And it was - it was - it was leading me home. You know? If my cockpit lights hadn't shorted out, there's no way I'd ever been able to see that. So uh, you, uh, never know... what... what events are to transpire to get you home.


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Apollo 13 was the seventh mission of NASA's Project Apollo and the third manned lunar-lander mission. The flight was commanded by Jim Lovell. The other astronauts on board were Jack Swigert and Fred Haise.

The craft was successfully launched toward the Moon, but two days after launch, a faulty oxygen tank exploded, and the Service Module became damaged, causing a loss of oxygen and electrical power. There was a very big chance that the astronauts would die before they could return to Earth. They were very short of oxygen. Oxygen is not just used to breathe, on the Apollo spacecraft it was used in a device called a Fuel cell to generate electricity. So they conserved their remaining air by turning off almost all their electrical equipment, including heaters, so it became very cold in the spacecraft.

In order to make it back to Earth the astronauts also had to move into the Lunar Lander, that then became a sort of lifeboat.

They were not sure that when it was time for their return to Earth that their parachutes, needed to slow the Command Module down, would work. The parachutes were thrown out by small explosive charges that were fired by batteries. The cold could have made the batteries go flat, in which case they would not have been able to use their parachutes and the Command Module would have hit the ocean so fast that all aboard would have been killed.

The flight

Apollo had taken to the Earth's orbit on the 11th April 1970 at 19:13 UTC. They flew from Cape Canaveral and they wanted to land at Fra Mauro. Despite the hardships, the crew made it back to Earth. In spite of the fact that crew did not land on the Moon, the flight became very well know.

Some people regarded it as a failure because they did not land on the Moon. However, others thought it was possibly the National Aeronautics and Space Administrations (NASAs) greatest accomplishment in returning three men in a very damaged spacecraft back to Earth safely.

Books were written about the event, including one by Jim Lovell, the commander of the mission. A movie was also made about it, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks.

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