Celebrate the Day
In 1970, Apollo 13 was the third intended manned-mission to land on the Moon. The spacecraft was launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on April 11th. The lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days after launch, which crippled its ability to land. This crew had limited power, shortage of potable water and loss of cabin heat. The carbon dioxide removal system needed to be rigged in order for the crew to be returned safely to Earth on April 17.
The flight crew was commanded by John “Jack” Swigert with James Lovell as Command Module Pilot and Fred Haise as Lunar Modul Pilot. Swigert was replaced for the original commander, Ken Mattingly, who was grounded after exposure to German measles (which he never actually got).
Considerable ingenuity under extreme pressure was required from the crew, flight controllers, and support personnel for the safe return. The developing drama was shown on television. 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.
In 1995, the movie “Apollo 13” came out starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Ed Harris and Bill Paxton. The film depicts a misquote of Lovell’s famous statement, “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” as “Houston, we have a problem” The film was nominated for several Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Harris) and Best Supporting Actress (Kathleen Quinlan as Marilyn Lovell).