"On April 13, 1970, disaster strikes 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No. 2 blows up on Apollo 13, the third manned lunar landing mission.A couple of days before, Apollo 13 launched from Florida a few of us were watching the mission on TV. On April 17, the whole world watched as the capsule hit the water somewhere in the Pacific. Between the 13th and the 17th, it was 24/7 news coverage of Apollo 13.
Astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise had left Earth two days before for the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon but were forced to turn their attention to simply making it home alive.
Mission commander Lovell reported to mission control on Earth: "Houston, we've had a problem here," and it was discovered that the normal supply of oxygen, electricity, light, and water had been disrupted.
The landing mission was aborted, and the astronauts and controllers on Earth scrambled to come up with emergency procedures.
The crippled spacecraft continued to the moon, circled it, and began a long, cold journey back to Earth.
The astronauts and mission control were faced with enormous logistical problems in stabilizing the spacecraft and its air supply, and providing enough energy to the damaged fuel cells to allow successful reentry into Earth's atmosphere.
Navigation was another problem, and Apollo 13's course was repeatedly corrected with dramatic and untested maneuvers."
I had a personal connection to Apollo 13. My school buddy was related to Jim Lovell.
Our school teachers let us watch the TV coverage and it was topic #1 in every class or lunch time conversation. We clapped like crazy when that capsule hit the water! My guess is that millions did the same all over the world.
Apollo 13 taught me two big lessons:
1) "Failure is not an option". I don't know if that was a NASA or movie line but teamwork is essential to getting anything done; and,
2) The astronauts were incredibly talented men. It took a lot of "thinking outside the box," as they say today, to bring that capsule back to earth.
Many remember a great movie. I remember a great moment in recent history.
P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.
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