- This article is about the Moon mission. There is also a movie by the name of Apollo 13.
was an American
space mission, part of the Apollo program
. It was intended to be the third mission to land on the Moon
The Apollo 13 logo featured three flying horses, and the motto Ex luna, scientia (out of the moon, science), and the name of the mission in Roman numerals
- Launched: April 11, 1970 from Pad 39A
- Returned: April 17, 1970
- Crew members: Jim Lovell, commander; Jack Swigert, command module pilot; Fred Haise, lunar module pilot.
- Command module: Odyssey
- Lunar module: Aquarius
- Intended lunar landing site: Fra Mauro highlands
An oxygen tank in the Service Module exploded while the spacecraft
was on its way to the Moon, requiring the mission to be aborted: the Moon landing was cancelled and only a single pass around the Moon was made. Considerable ingenuity under extreme pressure was required from both the crew and the ground controllers to figure out how to jury-rig the craft for the crew's safe return, with much of the world watching the drama on television. Central to the survival of the crew was the use of the Lunar Module
(still attached to the Command Module) as a "lifeboat" as the explosion had damaged the craft's electrical systems, precluding the generation of enough power to keep the Command Module operational.
In order to accomplish a safe return to Earth, a significant course correction to place the spacecraft on a free return trajectory was required. This was performed by firing the lunar module's descent engine. The engine was fired again after passage around the Moon in order to accelerate the spacecraft's return to Earth. (As a result of following the free return trajectory, the altitude of Apollo 13 over the lunar far side was approximately 100 km greater than the corresponding orbital altitude on the remaining Apollo lunar missions. Though this difference is swamped by the variation in distance between Earth and the Moon owing to the eccentricity of the Moon's orbit about Earth, this fact has sometimes generated sentiment favouring the award of the world altitude record to the Apollo 13 crew).
Reentry in Earth's atmosphere required the unusual step of undocking and jettisoning the lunar module, which had been retained for the flight back to Earth, in addition to the separation of the damaged service module. The crew returned unharmed to Earth.
Jim Lovell's book about the mission, Lost Moon, was later turned into a successful movie, Apollo 13, starring Tom Hanks.
- Swigert was a replacement for Ken Mattingly, who later flew to the Moon aboard Apollo 16. Mattingly was exposed to the measles prior to the mission, and NASA officials insisted upon removing him from the flight so as not to endanger the mission.
quote: "Houston, we have a problem
Actual quote: "Houston, we've had a problem
, first uttered by Swigert to ground, then repeated by Lovell.
The command module is currently displayed at the
Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas. It was formerly at the Musee de l'Air, Paris. The lunar module burned up in Earth's atmosphere 17 April, 1970.