Apollo 13

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Apollo 13
Apollo 13 passing Moon.jpg
The Apollo 13 crew took this photo of the Moon from the Lunar Module.
Mission typeCrewed lunar landing attempt
COSPAR ID1970-029A
SATCAT no.4371
Mission duration5 days, 22 hours, 54 minutes, 41 seconds
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass101,261 pounds (45,931 kg)
Landing mass11,133 pounds (5,050 kg)
Crew size3
  • CM: Odyssey
  • LM: Aquarius
Start of mission
Launch dateApril 11, 1970, 19:13:00 (1970-04-11UTC19:13Z) UTC
RocketSaturn V SA-508
Launch siteKennedy LC-39A
End of mission
Recovered byUSS Iwo Jima
Landing dateApril 17, 1970, 18:07:41 (1970-04-17UTC18:07:42Z) UTC
Landing siteSouth Pacific Ocean
21°38′24″S 165°21′42″W / 21.64000°S 165.36167°W / -21.64000; -165.36167 (Apollo 13 splashdown)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
Flyby of Moon (orbit and landing aborted)
Closest approachApril 15, 1970, 00:21:00 UTC
Distance254 kilometers (137 nmi)
Docking with LM
Docking dateApril 11, 1970, 22:32:08 UTC
Undocking dateApril 17, 1970, 16:43:00 UTC
Apollo 13-insignia.png Apollo 13 Prime Crew.jpg
Left to right Lovell, Swigert, Haise, 12 days after their return. 

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

The craft was launched successfully 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 large 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, for example heaters. It became very cold in the spacecraft.

In order to stay alive the astronauts also had to move into the Apollo Lunar Module and make it work as a sort of "lifeboat".

When they approached the Earth they were not sure 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 fail, in which case the parachutes would not work and the Command Module would hit the ocean so fast that all aboard would be killed.

The flight[change | change source]

Apollo blasted off on the April 11, 1970 at 19:13 UTC from Cape Canaveral and went into temporary low Earth orbit. Two hours later they fired the rocket motor again to go towards the Moon. They wanted to land at Fra Mauro. Despite the hardships, the crew made it back to Earth. Though the 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' (NASA's) 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.

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

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Orloff, Richard W. (September 2004) [First published 2000]. "Table of Contents". Apollo by the Numbers: A Statistical Reference. NASA History Division, Office of Policy and Plans. NASA History Series. Washington, D.C.: NASA. ISBN 0-16-050631-X. LCCN 00061677. NASA SP-2000-4029. Retrieved April 15, 2012.

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Apollo 13 at Wikimedia Commons