Apollo 13 Page

Welcome to Adrian's Apollo 13 Page.

This is a page dedicated to the Apollo 13 mission.


James Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert were launched aboard the USA's Apollo 13 at 14:13 local time on 11 April 1970. They planned to land on the Moon near the crater Frau Mauro, but they never reached their destination. On 13 April, almost 56 hours into the flight, the crew performed a routine operation to stir up the liquid oxygen in the tanks within the Apollo service module. Unknown to anyone at the time, the wiring in the tank had been damaged weeks before at Cape Kennedy and the astronauts actions started an electrical arc inside the tank. This set fire to some Teflon insulation and the resulting heat started boiling the liquid oxygen and caused the pressure in the tank to rise rapidly. Within a few seconds, unable to contain the pressure, the oxygen tank ruptured. Gas flooded out into the service module and less than half a second later the sudden pressure rise inside the bay blew a complete panel off the side of the service module. Jarred by the explosion, Apollo 13 lurched suddenly and alarms began to go off inside the command module warning that the fuel cells, which used oxygen from the ruptured tank to produce electricity, were not operating correctly, and Jack Swiggert radioed 'Ok Houston, we've had a problem here.'
In fact the problem was much worse than a failed electrical system. The astronauts soon noticed gas venting off into space and realized that they were in grave danger. When the tank had exploded, it had damaged the only other oxygen tank as well and the astronauts vital oxygen was boiling off into space before their eyes. Despite frantic efforts there was nothing they could do to stop the gas from escaping or to restore power to the crippled service module. They had only one chance: the lunar module was still attached and had both oxygen and batteries which could supply a limited amount of electrical power. Hurriedly the astronauts began to switch on the lunar module's power so that they could use it as a lifeboat.
The events of the next few days were a triumph for the mission controllers and their industrial contractors. They were also a test of endurance for the astronauts. Ground controllers improvised new procedures to use the lunar modules engine to bring Apollo 13 back to Earth and to eke out it's limited supply of power. Since all unnecessary systems were switched off, Apollo 13 became very cold and in addition the astronauts suffered a shortage of drinking water (water was usually produced as a by-product of the now defunct fuel cells). After a firing of the lunar modules descent engine, Apollo 13 rounded the Moon and headed back towards Earth. Shortly before splashdown the astronauts returned to the command module, jettisoned the useless service module and the lifesaving lunar module and began re-entry. On 17 April, almost 143 hours after lift-off, Apollo 13 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean..
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