Apollo 13 launch

Apollo 13 launch

Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon.

“Houston, we’ve had a problem…”

On April 11, 1970, Apollo 13 lifted off with Commander Jim Lovell, Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise aboard. Two days later, with the spacecraft well on its way to the moon, an oxygen tank exploded, scrubbing the lunar landing and putting the crew in jeopardy.

Working with Mission Control in Houston, the crew used their lunar module as a “lifeboat,” and even rigged an adapter so than a command module “air scrubber” would work in the lunar module, preventing a dangerous buildup of carbon dioxide.

The mission ended safely when the crew splashed down on April 17, 1970, but its “can-do” spirit lives on at NASA. It shows in the efforts of thousands to return the shuttle fleet to flight, and it will ultimately help NASA fulfill its exploration Vision – returning to the moon, journeying to Mars and beyond.

The flight passed the far side of the Moon at an altitude of 254 kilometers (137 nautical miles) above the lunar surface, and 400,171 km (248,655 mi) from Earth, a spaceflight record marking the farthest humans have ever traveled from Earth.

The story of the Apollo 13 mission has been dramatized multiple times, most notably in the 1995 film Apollo 13.

When oxygen tank exploded, the words actually spoken, initially by Jack Swigert, were “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here”. After being prompted to repeat the transmission by CAPCOM Jack R. Lousma, Mission Commander Jim Lovell responded, “Uh, Houston, we’ve had a problem.” The erroneous wording “Houston, we have a problem” was popularized by the 1995 film Apollo 13, a dramatization of the Apollo 13 mission, in which actor Tom Hanks, portraying Lovell, uses that wording, which became one of the film’s clichéd taglines. Since then, the phrase has become popular, being used to account, informally, the emergence of an unforeseen problem.

Image: Apollo 13 launch. Source:

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