Picture of Apollo 13 launch
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
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
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
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 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 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
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
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
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