The Story of Apollo XIII for Kids

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Extra propellant was carried as a test since future J missions to the Moon would require more propellant for their heavier payloads. This made the vehicle the heaviest yet flown by NASA and made Apollo 13 visibly slower to clear the launch tower than earlier missions.

Also considered part of the spacecraft were the launch escape system which would propel the command module CM to safety in the event of a problem during liftoff, and the Spacecraft—LM Adapter, numbered as SLA, which housed the lunar module LM during the first hours of the mission.

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Thereafter, testing and assembly proceeded, culminating with the rollout of the launch vehicle, with the spacecraft atop it, on December 15, The Apollo 13 prime crew undertook over 1, hours of mission-specific training, more than five hours for every hour of the mission's ten-day planned duration. Specialized simulators at other locations were also used. The astronauts of Apollo 11 had minimal time for geology training, with only six months between crew assignment and launch; higher priorities took much of their time. Believing an inspirational teacher was needed, Schmitt arranged for Lovell and Haise to meet his old professor, Caltech 's Lee Silver.

The two astronauts, and backups Young and Duke, went on a field trip with Silver at their own time and expense. At the end of their week together, Lovell made Silver their geology mentor, who would be extensively involved in the geology planning for Apollo Concerned about how close Apollo 11's LM, Eagle , had come to running out of propellant during its lunar descent, mission planners decided that beginning with Apollo 13, the CSM would bring the LM to the low orbit from which the landing attempt would commence.

This was a change from Apollo 11 and 12, on which the LM made the burn to bring it to the lower orbit. The change was part of an effort to increase the amount of hover time available to the astronauts as the missions headed into rougher terrain.

Apollo 13 launched to moon

The plan was to devote the first of the two four-hour lunar surface EVAs to setting up the ALSEP scientific instruments; during the second, Lovell and Haise would investigate Cone crater, near the planned landing site. They flew in the " Vomit Comet " in simulated microgravity or lunar gravity, including practice in donning and doffing spacesuits. Apollo 13's designated landing site was near Fra Mauro crater ; the Fra Mauro formation was believed to contain much material spattered by the impact that had filled the Imbrium basin early in the Moon's history.

Dating it would provide information not only about the Moon, but about the Earth's early history.

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Such material was likely to be available at Cone crater, a site where an impact was believed to have drilled deep into the lunar regolith. Apollo 11 had left a seismometer on the Moon, but the solar-powered unit did not survive its first two-week-long lunar night. The Apollo 12 astronauts also left one as part of its package of nuclear-powered scientific instruments. Developed by the U. The fuel capsule contained about 8. The cask placed around the capsule for transport to the Moon was built with heat shields of graphite and of beryllium, and with structural parts of titanium and of Inconel materials.

Thus, it was built to withstand the heat of reentry into the Earth's atmosphere in the event of an aborted mission. A United States flag was also taken, to be erected on the Moon's surface. The structure to fly the flag on the airless Moon was improved from Apollo 12's. For the first time, red stripes were placed on the helmet, arms and legs of the commander's A7L spacesuit. This was done as after Apollo 11, those reviewing the images taken had trouble distinguishing Armstrong from Aldrin , but the change was approved too late for Apollo Apollo 13's primary mission objectives were to: "Perform selenological inspection, survey, and sampling of materials in a preselected region of the Fra Mauro Formation.

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  • Develop man's capability to work in the lunar environment. Obtain photographs of candidate exploration sites.

    One Small Step - The Apollo 11 Mission Animated

    Some of this photography was to be performed by Swigert as Lovell and Haise walked on the Moon. Apollo 13 had twelve cameras on board, including those for television and moving pictures.

    'Houston, we've had a problem'

    None of these was attempted because of the accident. An anomaly occurred when the second-stage, center inboard engine shut down about two minutes early. Swigert performed the separation and transposition maneuvers before docking the CSM Odyssey to the LM Aquarius , and the spacecraft pulled away from the third stage, [64] which ground controllers then sent on a course to impact the Moon in range of the Apollo 12 seismometer, which it did just over three days into the mission. The crew settled in for the three-day trip to Fra Mauro. At into the mission, with the TV camera running, the crew performed a burn to place Apollo 13 on a hybrid trajectory.

    This was a quicker way to reach Fra Mauro, but the departure from a free return trajectory meant that if no further burns were performed, Apollo 13 would miss Earth on its return trajectory, rather than intercept it, as with a free return. He was found to be entitled to a day extension for being out of the country at the deadline. Entry into the LM to test its systems had been scheduled for ; when the crew awoke on the third day of the mission, they were informed it had been moved up three hours and was later moved up again by another hour. A television broadcast was scheduled for ; Lovell, acting as emcee, showed the audience the interiors of Odyssey and Aquarius.

    The pressure sensor in one of the SM's oxygen tanks had earlier appeared to be malfunctioning, so Sy Liebergot the EECOM , in charge of monitoring the CSM's electrical system requested that the stirring fans in the tanks be activated. Normally this was done once daily; this additional stir would destratify the contents of the tanks, making the pressure readings more accurate. Ninety-five seconds after Swigert activated those switches, [73] the astronauts heard a "pretty large bang", accompanied by fluctuations in electrical power and the firing of the attitude control thrusters.

    We've had a Main B Bus undervolt. Lovell's initial thought on hearing the noise was that Haise had activated the LM's cabin-repressurization valve, which also produced a bang Haise enjoyed doing so to startle his crewmates but Lovell could see that Haise had no idea what had happened. Swigert initially thought that a meteoroid might have struck the LM, but he and Lovell quickly realized there was no leak. Almost everything in the CSM required power. Although the bus momentarily returned to normal status, soon both buses A and B were short on voltage.

    Haise checked the status of the three fuel cells, and found that two of the three were dead. Mission rules forbade entering lunar orbit unless all three fuel cells were operational. When Kranz questioned Liebergot on this he initially responded that there might be false readings due to an instrumentation problem; he was often teased about that in the years to come. These would be needed for the final hours of the mission, but the remaining fuel cell, already starved for oxygen, was drawing from the surge tank.

    Mission rules required all three fuel cells to be working if a lunar landing was to be attempted, [78] so the mission's goal became simply getting the astronauts back to Earth alive. A key decision was the choice of return path. A "direct abort" would use the SM's main engine the "service propulsion system" or SPS to turn around before reaching the Moon. But the accident could have damaged the SPS, and the fuel cells would have to last at least another hour to meet its power requirements, so Kranz instead decided on a longer route: the spacecraft would swing around the Moon before heading back to Earth.

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    • But Apollo 13 was on the hybrid trajectory which was to take it quickly to Fra Mauro, so it now needed to be brought back to a free return. As the CM was being shut down, Lovell copied down its guidance system's orientation information and performed hand calculations to transfer it to the LM's guidance system, which had been turned off; at his request Mission Control checked his figures.

      Jerry Bostick and other Flight Dynamics Officers FIDOs were anxious both to shorten the travel time and to move splashdown to the Pacific Ocean , where the main recovery forces were located.


      One option that would shave 36 hours off the return time, but required jettisoning the SM; this would expose the CM's heat shield to space during the return journey, something for which it had not been designed. The FIDOs also proposed other solutions. Gilruth decided on a burn, using the DPS, that would save 12 hours and land Apollo 13 in the Pacific.

      While preparing for the burn the crew was told that S-IVB had impacted the Moon as planned, leading Lovell to quip, "Well, at least something worked on this flight. The astronauts used the one star available whose position could not be obscured—the Sun. The LM carried enough oxygen, but that still left the problem of removing carbon dioxide , which was absorbed by canisters of lithium hydroxide pellets.

      The LM's stock of canisters, meant to accommodate two astronauts for 45 hours on the moon was not enough to support three astronauts for the return journey to Earth. Engineers on the ground devised a way to bridge the gap, using plastic, covers ripped from procedures manuals, duct tape, and other items. Lovell later described this improvisation as "a fine example of cooperation between ground and space". The CSM's electricity came from fuel cells that produced water as a byproduct, but the LM was powered by silver-zinc batteries , so both electrical power and water needed for equipment cooling as well as drinking would be critical.

      ‘Odyssey’ mission

      LM power consumption was reduced to the lowest level possible; [96] Swigert was able to fill some drinking bags with water from the CM's water tap, [88] but even assuming rationing of personal consumption, Haise initially calculated they would run out of water for cooling about five hours before reentry. This seemed acceptable because the systems of Apollo 11's LM, once jettisoned in lunar orbit, had continued to operate for seven to eight hours even with the water cut off.

      In the end, Apollo 13 returned to Earth with Lovell considered having the crew don their spacesuits, but decided this would be too hot. All three astronauts were cold, especially Swigert, who had got his feet wet while filling the water bags and had no lunar overshoes since he had not been scheduled to walk on the moon.

      As they had been told not to discharge their urine to space to avoid disturbing the trajectory, they had to store the urine in bags. Water condensed on the walls, though any condensation there may have been behind equipment panels [] caused no problems, partly because of the extensive electrical insulation improvements instituted after the Apollo 1 fire. Despite the accuracy of the transearth injection, the spacecraft slowly drifted off course, necessitating a correction.

      Nevertheless, yet another burn was needed at , using the LM's reaction control system RCS thrusters, for The SM was jettisoned less than half an hour later, allowing the crew to see the damage for the first time, and photograph it.

      Apollo 13 (AS-508)

      They reported that an entire panel was missing from the SM's exterior, the fuel cells above the oxygen tank shelf were tilted, that the high-gain antenna was damaged, and there was a considerable amount of debris elsewhere. The last problem to be solved was how to separate the lunar module a safe distance away from the command module just before reentry. Grumman , manufacturer of the LM, assigned a team of University of Toronto engineers, led by senior scientist Bernard Etkin , to solve the problem of how much air pressure to use to push the modules apart.

      The astronauts applied the solution, which was successful.

      Houston, we Have a Solution: the Story of Apollo 13 | OpenMind

      The impact point was over the Tonga Trench in the Pacific, one of its deepest points, and the cask sank 10 kilometers to the bottom. Later helicopter surveys found no radioactive leakage. Ionization of the air around the command module during reentry would typically cause a four-minute communications blackout.

      Apollo 13's shallow reentry path lengthened this to six minutes, longer than had been predicted; there was great tension because of fear that the CM's heat shield had failed. Thomas O. Paine the award, but Paine recommended the mission operations team. Nobody believes me, but during this six-day odyssey we had no idea what an impression Apollo 13 made on the people of Earth. We never dreamed a billion people were following us on television and radio, and reading about us in banner headlines of every newspaper published.