Apollo 13 – who remembers?

55:55:20 – Swigert: “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

Apollo 13

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.

Also, those who want more information, may wish to go here, here and here

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.

7 thoughts on “Apollo 13 – who remembers?

  1. It’s almost disheartening that space exploration is no longer the subject of interest that it once used to be – I think it’s incredible that we were able to send people into space and even land them on the moon in an age that predated the personal computer and smartphone!

    As indicated by the conclusion of the NASA space shuttle programme we are beginning to see a decline in publicly funded national space programmes – which are now giving way to the rise of commercially funded space enterprises. Will these private space programmes share the same aspirations and exuberance for space exploration as NASA? I suppose we shall have to wait and see.

    I wonder whether I will ever be able to share the excitement that my father must have felt as he and the world watched the first men in history, set foot on the surface of the moon. At the age of 24, will I ever witness, in my lifetime, the next leap in space exploration (and in human history): to see mankind step across the surface of Mars? – I very much hope so.


    1. Edward, having new visitors to Learning from Dogs is always most appreciated. Thank you for your comment. While for me those early explorations into space and, especially, the moon landings were the object of total fascination, to the point of obsessiveness, I would be the first to admit that the present times call for ‘investment’ in Spaceship Earth.
      Love your Blog by the way, Paul


  2. Hi Paul… Yes I remember Apolo 13 and also remember my Dad getting me up to witness the landing on the Moon… I also remember watching intently the first time the Space Shuttle landed back on the runway after being in outer space… Some Wow factor moments..

    I totally agree with you Paul.. that our Planet needs to come together in these fragile times.. We have forgotten How to live together in harmony without suspicion of each other, and we have forgotten how to live within a community that pulls together….. And we have long forgotten the power of untied thoughts.. and just what impact those thoughts and prayers have when sent out in positive intent…
    Thank you for my walk down memory lane..


  3. I remember it well. Though I’ve watched Apollo 13 so many times now, I think that some of what I think I remember is muddled up with the dramatisation. I’ve read Jim Lovell’s Lost Moon, too — that fills in a whole lot more fascinating detail that the film didn’t cover. It’s absolutely incredible that they made it back alive.

    PS typo alert: “… the world came together, held it’sits collective breath…”


    1. You’ve been trawling the LfD barrel! 😉

      Haven’t read the book; sounds like one for the reading list.

      Thanks for the typo alert, that’s a common mistake of mine. Now corrected.


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