NASA Remembers 50th Anniversary of Apollo 13, ‘A Successful Failure’

By  //  April 11, 2020

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Splashdown occurred in the Pacific Ocean on April 17

ABOVE VIDEO: Apollo 13 – Home Safe

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – As NASA marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission – which has become known as “a successful failure” that saw the safe return of its crew in spite of a catastrophic explosion – the agency is sharing a variety of resources, recognizing the triumph of the mission control team and the astronauts, and looking at how those lessons learned can be applied to its lunar Artemis program.

“Our goal 50 years ago was to save our valiant crew after sending them around the Moon and return them safely to Earth,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“Our goal now is to return to the Moon to stay, in a sustainable way. We are working hard to ensure that we don’t need to respond to this kind of emergency in Artemis, but to be ready to respond to any problems we don’t anticipate.”

The crew of Apollo 13 consisted of Commander James (Jim) Lovell Jr., Command Module Pilot John Swigert Jr. and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise Jr. Their Saturn V rocket launched at 2:13 p.m. EST on April 11,1970, from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

S70-35614 (17 April 1970) — The crewmembers of the Apollo 13 mission, step aboard the USS Iwo Jima, prime recovery ship for the mission, following splashdown and recovery operations in the South Pacific Ocean. Exiting the helicopter which made the pick-up some four miles from the Iwo Jima are (from left) astronauts Fred W. Haise Jr., lunar module pilot; James A. Lovell Jr., commander; and John L. Swigert Jr., command module pilot. The crippled Apollo 13 spacecraft splashed down at 12:07:44 p.m. (CST), April 17, 1970. (NASA Image)

The command module was named Odyssey, and the lunar module was named Aquarius.

While en route to the Moon on April 13, an oxygen tank in the Apollo service module ruptured.

The lunar landing and moonwalks, which would have been executed by Lovell and Haise, were aborted as a dedicated team of flight controllers and engineering experts in the Apollo Mission Control Center devoted their efforts to developing a plan to shelter the crew in the lunar module as a “lifeboat” and retain sufficient resources to bring the spacecraft and its crew back home safely.

Splashdown occurred in the Pacific Ocean at 1:07 p.m. April 17, after a flight that lasted five days, 22 hours and 54 minutes.

A group of flight controllers gathers around the console of Glynn S. Lunney (seated, nearest camera), Shift 4 flight director, in the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) of Mission Control Center (MCC), located in Building 30 at the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC). Their attention is drawn to a weather map of the proposed landing site in the South Pacific Ocean. Among those looking on is Dr. Christopher C. Kraft, deputy director, MSC, standing in black suit, on right. When this photograph was taken, the Apollo 13 lunar landing mission had been canceled, and the problem-plagued Apollo 13 crew members were in trans-Earth trajectory attempting to bring their crippled spacecraft back home. (NASA Image)

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