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Raumfahrt-History - Lessons from a ‘successful failure’: Apollo 13 astronaut, flight director recall famous mission

12.04.2020

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This photograph of the Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center at the Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center), Houston, was taken on April 13, 1970, during the fourth television transmission from the Apollo 13 mission. Eugene F. Kranz (foreground, back to camera), one of four Apollo 13 flight directors, views

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Navy divers prepare the Apollo 13 Command Module for hoisting and recovery onto the USS Iwo Jima following splashdown. April 17, 1970.

Astronaut Fred Haise heard a loud bang, like someone had hit the side of the metal spacecraft with a sledgehammer. He floated toward the instrument panel and saw a flurry of warning lights. Notably, several instruments for oxygen tank No. 2 had their needles at the bottom. At empty.

That oxygen tank had been lost. And with it, his hopes of landing on the moon.

“I was just sick to my stomach with disappointment,” Haise recalled. “Because I knew, without looking at the mission rules book, that we had an abort.”

 

But it quickly became clear that much more than the lunar landing was at stake in the now infamous Apollo 13 mission. The successful failure, memorialized in a movie that helped give Houston its well-worn cliché, launched 50 years ago on April 11, 1970.

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