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Apollo 13

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Apollo 13

Apollo 13 launched on April 11, 1970 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crewmembers aboard the ship were James A. Lovell Jr., John L. Swigert Jr., and Fred W. Haise, Jr. Before the launch, there had been a few problems. Thomas K. Mattingly was supposed to fly on the Apollo 13 but he was exposed to the measles. He didn’t have the antibodies to fight the disease, causing him to not be able to go into space. Swigert took his place. Right before the launch, one of the technicians saw that the helium tank had a higher pressure than expected. Nothing was done to fix this. During liftoff, the second-stage engine shut down, causing the other engines to run longer than planned. Apollo 13 was off to a rocky start.

During the flight, the second oxygen tank exploded. The oxygen tank contained liquid required for fuel and oxygen. Liquid oxygen has to be handled very carefully. The astronauts need to constantly stir the oxygen to prevent it from separating. The wires in the device needed to stir the oxygen were damaged, causing a big fire when electricity was passed through them. The explosion caused the number one oxygen to be critically damaged. This was bad because it left the ship with little power. Clueless about the real reason for the explosion, the crew thought a meteoroid had hit them. There was a large amount of damage caused by the explosions. Lovell looked out of the window, thirteen minutes after the explosion. He noticed that the ship was venting some gas out into space. Oxygen gas was leaking out of the spacecraft. Reacting on impulse, the astronauts closed the hatched between the Command Module and Lunar Module. Slowly, the crew and ground controllers began to realize that Apollo 13 was losing oxygen. Apollo 13 would not land on the moon. The number one objective now was to get the crew safely home.

There were three main components on the Apollo 13, just like all the other Apollo spacecrafts. Because of the explosion, the parts weren’t used as had been planned. The Service Module (SM) was supposed to provide the crew with oxygen, water and power before the mission. When the oxygen exploded, it led to the loss of some of those necessities and the Service Module was nonfunctional. The Command Module (CM) also provided the crew with power and oxygen. It was also prepared with couches and served as a control center. When the explosion took place, they had to shut off the Command Module to allow enough power for reentry. The Lunar Module (LM) was supposed to provide the crew with living quarters when landed on the moon. However, on

this mission, the crew could not land on the moon. The Lunar Module then acted as a “lifeboat.” It allowed the astronauts to preserve the Command Module supplies needed for reentry.

The ground controllers had some major problems to solve. They had to write and test new procedures to send up to the crew for a safe arrival home. A new navigation problem had to be solved to provide the crew with a speedy return. Water was also a main concern. The crew was estimated to run out of water in about five hours. But tests on previous Apollo missions found that the ship could run without water for about seven hours. The astronauts began to conserve water by



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