On this day – April 11th 1970
Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida. It was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the Service Module (SM) upon which the Command Module (CM) depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.
|Apollo 13 launches from Kennedy Space Center, April 11, 1970|
A film was made regarding the Apollo 13 mission in 1995 directed by Ron Howard who went to great lengths to create a technically accurate movie, employing NASA’s technical assistance in astronaut and flight controller training for his cast, and even obtaining permission to film scenes aboard a reduced gravity aircraft for realistic depiction of the “weightlessness” experienced by the astronauts in space.
Three days into the mission, the crew send a live television transmission from Odyssey, but the networks, believing the public now regards lunar missions as routine, decline to carry the broadcast live. Astronaut Swigert is told to perform a standard housekeeping procedure of stirring the two liquid oxygen tanks in the Service Module. When he flips the switch, one tank explodes, emptying its contents into space and sending the craft tumbling. The other tank is soon found to be leaking, prompting Mission Control to abort the Moon landing.
The crew is soon subjected to freezing conditions. When the carbon dioxide exhaled by the astronauts reaches the Lunar Module’s filter capacity and approaches dangerous levels, an engineering team quickly invents a way to make the Command Module’s square filters work in the Lunar Module’s round receptacles. The crew eventually get the Odyssey going and make a safe return to earth.
|The Apollo 13 Command Module|
The Apollo 13 incident gave rise to the famous line ‘Houston, We’ve Got a Problem’.
Further Apollo missions continued which resulted in successful manned landings on the moon. There are a number of proposed future missions to the moon – most of them robotic or remote missions using rovers. However the Russians did announce in 2007 their intention to send cosmonauts to the moon by 2025 and establish a permanent robotically operated base there in 2027–2032.
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