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[change | edit source]
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 known.
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.
Coming up to re-entry, it was thought that the electrical equipment would short circuit because the water in the astronauts' breath had turned back into a liquid all over the computers. However, the electronics were fine.