Thursday, April 17, 2014
APRIL 17 = Apollo 13 Returns to Earth
Bergman : "The one un-jinxed element of this flight in addition to their survival. Beautiful pictures, the para- chutes opening... descen- ding into a slight cloud cover over the Pacific. But a spectacularly clear day after earlier threats of bad weather. And a mill pond sea... calm as could be." Reynolds: "And there's the splash..."
These were the words of two ABC newsmen, Jules Bergman and Frank Reynolds as they describe the return of Apollo 13 to planet earth on today's date, April 17 in 1970. Apollo 13 had suffered a major malfunction which had put the Astronaut's lives in danger for several days, until the return to a safe splashdown on this date. It had been only a few minutes before the splashdown that we found out that the Astronauts had survived.
Apollo 13's Ill-fated Mission to the Moon
Apollo 13's mission had been to land on and explore the Fra Mauro highlands, which had been named after the 80-kilometer-diameter Fra Mauro crater inside of it. It is a very large, hilly area thought to be composed of moon rocks from the impact that began the moons formation. The mission had been launched on April 11. Aboard Apollo 13 were (pictured above, L to R) the mission commander. James A. Lovell for whom this was the fourth and final space flight, and with him were John L. Swigert, the command module pilot and Fred Haise, the pilot of the lunar module. This was the first space flight for Swigert and Haise. All three were former test pilots.
"Houston. we've had a problem..."
On the afternoon of April 14 a significant problem arose. Mission Control asked Swigert to turn on the hydrogen and oxygen tank stirring fans, and he did. About a minute and a half later, the astronauts heard a "loud bang," in addition to changes in electrical power and firing of the attitude control thrusters. This is when Swigert made the famous report to the Johnson Space Center in Houston
The Perilous Return Trip
With so much of their oxygen gone, the decision was sorrowfully made that the landing on the moon would have to be cancelled. The only hope of success would now be to get the crew back to earth alive. This with depleted energy left on the space craft meant that a whole
"When that spacecraft splashed down an water came over the windows," Jim Lovell would later remember, "I said 'Hey, we're home!!'"
"Apollo 13", directed by Ron Howard, 1995.