Shop Windows to the Universe

Dig into Montana Before History: 11K Years of Hunter-Gatherers in the Rockies and Plains by D. H. MacDonald, Ph.D. See our online store book collection.
Picture of Apollo 13 launch
NASA

Apollo 13

After the Apollo 1 fire, NASA suffered its second failure in the Apollo program with their thirteenth space mission. Apollo 13 was launched on Apr. 11, 1970, carrying astronauts James Lovell, John Swigert, and Fred Haise on board. It continued on a journey to the Moon, where it planned to complete the third manned lunar landing.

However, just two days into the mission, a loud bang was heard, caused by the explosion of an oxygen tank. The Apollo 13 crew soon learned that their power supply was dangerously low, as well as other supplies necessary for maintaining life support. Stranded in space, 200,000 miles from Earth and heading toward the Moon, the astronauts realized that their lunar landing would be impossible, and even making it back to Earth alive would be a miracle.

In a classic display of resourcefulness, NASA engineers searched for ways to utilize the supplies and equipment of the Apollo 13 lunar module, which had remained unharmed in the explosion. They cleverly figured out that its Environmental Control System could be used to remove carbon dioxide from the cabin, and that its engine could guide the spacecraft around the Moon and speed its return home. The astronauts also showed tremendous courage, surviving temperatures near freezing, and dehydration for four days before re-entering Earth's atmosphere and safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

The Apollo 13 mission is classified as a failure, but with the successful rescue of its three astronauts avoids being considered a complete disaster.


Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes books on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist, mineral and fossil specimens, and educational games!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the most important exploration tools of the past two decades, and will continue to serve as a great resource well into the new millennium. The HST found numerous...more

Apollo 11

Driven by a recent surge in space research, the Apollo program hoped to add to the accomplishments of the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions of the late 1960's. Apollo 11 was the name of the first mission...more

Apollo 12

Apollo 12 was launched on Nov. 14, 1969, surviving a lightning strike which temporarily shut down many systems, and arrived at the Moon three days later. Astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean descended...more

Apollo 15

Apollo 15 marked the start of a new series of missions from the Apollo space program, each capable of exploring more lunar terrain than ever before. Launched on July 26, 1971, Apollo 15 reached the Moon...more

Deep Impact Mission

NASA chose Deep Impact to be part of a special series called the Discovery Program on July 7, 1999. The Discovery program specializes in low-cost, scientific projects. In May 2001, Deep Impact was given...more

Galileo

The Galileo spacecraft was launched on October 19, 1989. Galileo had two parts: an orbiter and a descent probe that parachuted into Jupiter's atmosphere. Galileo's main mission was to explore Jupiter and...more

Lunar Orbiter

During 1966 through 1967, five Lunar Orbiter spacecrafts were launched, with the purpose of mapping the Moon's surface in preparation for the Apollo and Surveyor landings. All five missions were successful....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF