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Apollo 13
Apollo 13 passing Moon.jpg
The Apollo 13 crew took this photo of the Moon from the Lunar Module.
Mission type Manned lunar landing attempt
Operator NASA
Mission duration 5 days, 22 hours, 54 minutes, 41 seconds
Spacecraft properties
  • CSM: North American Rockwell
  • LM: Grumman
Launch mass 101,261 pounds (45,931 kg)
Landing mass 11,133 pounds (5,050 kg)
Crew size 3
  • CM: Odyssey
  • LM: Aquarius
Start of mission
Launch date April 11, 1970, 19:13:00 (1970-04-11UTC19:13Z) UTC
Rocket Saturn V SA-508
Launch site Kennedy LC-39A
End of mission
Recovered by USS Iwo Jima
Landing date April 17, 1970, 18:07:41 (1970-04-17UTC18:07:42Z) UTC
Landing site South Pacific Ocean
21°38′24″S 165°21′42″W / 21.64000°S 165.36167°W / -21.64000; -165.36167 (Apollo 13 splashdown)
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Cislunar
Flyby of Moon (orbit and landing aborted)
Closest approach April 15, 1970, 00:21:00 UTC
Distance 254 kilometers (137 nmi)
Docking with LM
Docking date April 11, 1970, 22:32:08 UTC
Undocking date April 17, 1970, 16:43:00 UTC
Apollo 13-insignia.png Apollo 13 Prime Crew.jpg
Left to right Lovell, Swigert, Haise, 12 days after their return.

Apollo 13 was the seventh mission of NASA's Project Apollo and the third manned lunar-lander mission. The flight was commanded by Jim Lovell. The other astronauts on board were Jack Swigert and Fred Haise.

The craft was launched successfully toward the Moon, but two days after launch a faulty oxygen tank exploded, and the Service Module became damaged, causing a loss of oxygen and electrical power. There was a very large chance that the astronauts would die before they could return to Earth. They were very short of oxygen. Oxygen is not just used to breathe; on the Apollo spacecraft it was used in a device called a Fuel cell to generate electricity. So they conserved their remaining air by turning off almost all their electrical equipment, for example heaters. It became very cold in the spacecraft.

In order to stay alive the astronauts also had to move into the Apollo Lunar Module and make it work as a sort of "lifeboat".

When they approached the Earth they were not sure that their parachutes, needed to slow the Command Module down, would work. The parachutes were thrown out by small explosive charges that were fired by batteries. The cold could have made the batteries fail, in which case the parachutes would not work and the Command Module would hit the ocean so fast that all aboard would be killed.

Astronauts and key Mission Control personnel

Apollo 13 crew before launch
Swigert, Lovell and Haise the day before launch

Apollo 13's mission commander, Jim Lovell, was 42 years old at the time of the spaceflight, which was his fourth and last. He was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and had been a naval aviator and test pilot before being selected for the second group of astronauts in 1962; he flew with Frank Borman in Gemini 7 in 1965 and Buzz Aldrin in Gemini 12 the following year before flying in Apollo 8 in 1968, the first spacecraft to orbit the Moon. At the time of Apollo 13, Lovell was the NASA astronaut with the most time in space, with 572 hours over the three missions.

Jack Swigert, the command module pilot (CMP), was 38 years old and held a B.S. in mechanical engineering and an M.S. in aerospace science; he had served in the Air Force and in state Air National Guards, and was an engineering test pilot before being selected for the fifth group of astronauts in 1966.

Fred Haise, the lunar module pilot (LMP), was 35 years old. He held a B.S. in aeronautical engineering, had been a Marine Corps fighter pilot, and was a civilian research pilot for NASA when he was selected as a Group 5 astronaut. Apollo 13 was Swigert's and Haise's only spaceflight.

The flight

Apollo blasted off on the April 11, 1970 at 19:13 UTC from Cape Canaveral and went into temporary low Earth orbit. Two hours later they fired the rocket motor again to go towards the Moon. They wanted to land at Fra Mauro. Despite the hardships, the crew made it back to Earth. Though the crew did not land on the Moon, the flight became very well known.

Some people regarded it as a failure because they did not land on the Moon. However, others thought it was possibly the National Aeronautics and Space Administrations' (NASA's) greatest accomplishment in returning three men in a very damaged spacecraft back to Earth safely.

Coming up to re-entry, it was thought that the electrical equipment would short circuit because the water in the astronauts' breath had turned back into a liquid all over the computers. However, the electronics were fine.

Books were written about the event, for example one by Jim Lovell, the commander of the mission. A movie was also made about it, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Apolo 13 para niños

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