55:55:20 – Swigert: “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”
Probably one of the most famous phrases from the whole Apollo program, these immortal words were uttered shortly before 10.10 PM EST on April 13th, 1970.
There is so much material around that it would be pointless covering too much ground in this Post. So why the Post today?
Because today, too, is the 13th April. So on this day, 41 years ago, the world came together held its collective breath and prayed for a successful outcome to this scary disaster.
There are some wonderful archives around from NASA. Here’s one that covers the chronology of events of that famous accident.
The following includes events from 2.5 minutes before the accident to about 5 minutes after. Times given are in Ground Elapsed Time (G.E.T.), that is, the time elapsed since liftoff of Apollo 13 on April 11, 1970, at 2:13 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST). 55:52:00 G.E.T. is equal to 10:05 PM EST on April 13, 1970.
And 41 years ago, this coming Sunday, i.e. April 17th 1970, with the whole world praying for their safe return, Apollo 13 splashed down near Samoa.
Four hours before landing, the crew shed the service module; Mission Control had insisted on retaining it until then because everyone feared what the cold of space might do to the unsheltered CM heat shield. Photos of the Service Module showed one whole panel missing, and wreckage hanging out, it was a sorry mess as it drifted away. Three hours later the crew left the Lunar Module Aquarius and then splashed down gently in the Pacific Ocean near Samoa. From here.
In a very real sense, Apollo 13, like a number of the other historic Apollo flights, is a wonderful reminder of something that this Planet needs right now. A coming together of all the peoples of this beautiful planet, a unity of mankind, to remind us in these fragile and difficult times of the saying, ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’
Finally, this Post is published, not only on the 41st anniversary of that memorable Apollo Flight but the day after the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first flight of a human into space, the 12th April, 1961.