Tuesday, April 13, 2010

“Houston, We Have a Problem” – Anniversary of Apollo 13

Today marks one of the most dramatic events in American space history; the day the oxygen tanks exploded on Apollo 13. Commander James A. Lovell, command module pilot John Sigert and lunar module pilot Fred Haise were the mission crew who launched into space on April 11, 1970. The mission intended to land on the moon, but two days into the mission, the oxygen tanks ruptured causing enough damage to abort the moon landing. Imagine the initial emotions of the astronauts who had come so close to walking on the moon, only to have that dream taken away in a split second. One moment the astronauts were imagining the fruition of years of training, the next they had to use all their strength to keep themselves alive. The astronauts were able to return safely from their mission as a nation waited with baited breath. They landed on earth on April 17th. Ever since their safe return, their story has continued to inspire not because they achieved what they set out to do, but because they could adapt to the challenges at hand and survive.

Here is the audio from the Apollo 13 flight after the explosion of the oxygen tank in which Commander James Lovell utters the now famous words, “Houston, we have a problem.” If you listen closely, I think he actually says, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

Here is an interesting simulation of the Apollo 13 flight showing what might have happened if the crew hadn’t used the rockets on the landing gear to get them back into earth’s orbit.

[Image via b2bcmo]


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