Today, 11 April 2020 marks the silver jubilee year for Apollo 13. The mission crew was unable to make it to the Moon’s surface. But their survival marked the importance of the human spirit. 50 years before this day, 3 young astronauts went inside the Apollo 13 on a journey that changed their lives forever. These 3 astronauts thought they will be the next ones to step on the moon. But destiny had other plans.
NASA describes the entire operation as a “Successful failure”. Apollo 13, in reality, did end in complete disaster, at least to the general public. But, for the cosmonauts, it was a lesson in the human spirit. Yes, they could not make it to the surface of the moon. In any space exploration, life is the most valuable object.
Apollo 13: A 50-year tale!
Around 2:14 P.M. on April 11, 1970, James Lovell, commander of the flight, along with his two partners, module pilot commander John Swigert and lunar module pilot Fred Haise gathered inside Apollo 13.
On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13’s launch from Kennedy Space Center, hear astronaut Fred Haise explain the surprising thing that led him to a math and engineering-career. 🚀🎵 🌟
— Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (@ExploreSpaceKSC) April 11, 2020
They took off from Launch Complex 39A in Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The astronauts started the journey towards the moon. But fate had something else for them.
Around 56 hours into the flight, the mission started falling apart. The crew observed a slight drop in cabin pressure. Flight Commander Swigert was on his way to check the service module oxygen tanks.
That is when everyone hears a bang. That is when the world-famous pop reference from Hollywood drops. ” Okay Houston, I think we have a problem. ”
The problem was turned out to be a big one. The electric lines in the fan circuit shorted out. This ignited the wire insulation in cryogenic oxygen tank 2. Now, this caused the tank to heat up and eventually explode. This explosion did not go very well with the spacecraft. The oxygen level and cabin pressure dropped quickly. They now planned to fly around the outer orbit of the moon to slingshot a trajectory back to earth. The team finally had to eject their lunar module in order to make themselves light.
On entering the planet’s atmosphere they plunged straight for the pacific ocean on April 17. It was a good day for humanity.
NASA is currently building ARTEMIS, which plans to take the first woman on the moon by 2024.
Suryapratim Ray is an engineer, author, robotics hobbyist, and an active Quoran. Being a technical blogger, he covers the good, bad, and ugly of science on a regular basis at Sciencenews18. In addition to his passion for writing, he’s equally keen on learning classical music.