Canada Space Directory

New Apollo 13 documentary brings harrowing mission to life

This photograph shows Apollo 13 astronauts Fred Haise, John Swigert, and James Lovell aboard the recovery ship, USS Iwo Jima after safely touching down in the Pacific Ocean at the end of their ill-fated mission. The mission was aborted after 56 hours of flight, 205,000 miles from Earth, when an oxygen tank in the service module exploded. The command module, Odyssey, brought the three astronauts back home safely. Credit: NASA.

Fifty years ago today at 2:13 p.m EST the Apollo 13 mission lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on what would become a gripping nail-bitting harrowing mission, but with a happy outcome.

Now 50 years later, NASA has released a new 30 minute documentary with new interviews, restored footage and synchronized audio from Mission Control. NASA was helped in this endeavour by Stephen Slater and Ben Feist of Apollo in Real-Time who provided additional footage and audio.

Apollo 13 mission image: This view of the Apollo 13 Lunar Module (LM) was photographed from the Command Module (CM) just after the LM had been jettisoned. The jettisoning occurred a few minutes before 11 a.m. (CST), April 17, 1970, just over an hour prior to splashdown of the CM in the south Pacific Ocean. The apparent explosion of oxygen tank number two in the Apollo 13 Service Module (SM) caused the Apollo 13 crew members to rely on the LM as a "lifeboat".
Apollo 13 mission image: This view of the Apollo 13 Lunar Module (LM) was photographed from the Command Module (CM) just after the LM had been jettisoned. The jettisoning occurred a few minutes before 11 a.m. (CST), April 17, 1970, just over an hour prior to splashdown of the CM in the south Pacific Ocean. The apparent explosion of oxygen tank number two in the Apollo 13 Service Module (SM) caused the Apollo 13 crew members to rely on the LM as a “lifeboat”. Credit: NASA.

“Houston, we’ve had a problem” was heard in mission control, and though momentarily taken aback, the mission control teams would rally and help the three astronauts, Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert, to avert what could have been a catastrophic ending to humanity’s third mission to surface of the moon.

Everyone knows how the mission ended. The astronauts returned safely to Earth, though without landing on the Moon.

An oblique view of the International Astronomical Union Crater No. 302 on the lunar farside as photographed from the Apollo 13 spacecraft during its pass around the moon. This large crater is located at 162 degrees east longitude and 10 degrees south latitude. The smaller crater, I.A.U. No. 301, is in the foreground. I.A.U. No. 302 has ridges in its center and a smaller crater near its inner edge. This view is looking southeast.
Apollo 13 mission image: An oblique view of the International Astronomical Union Crater No. 302 on the lunar farside as photographed from the Apollo 13 spacecraft during its pass around the moon. This large crater is located at 162 degrees east longitude and 10 degrees south latitude. The smaller crater, I.A.U. No. 301, is in the foreground. I.A.U. No. 302 has ridges in its center and a smaller crater near its inner edge. This view is looking southeast. Credit: NASA.

The documentary features interviews with Apollo 13 Astronauts Jim Lovell and Fred Haise, as well as Flight Directors Gene Kranz, Glynn Lunney, and engineer Hank Rotter. Parts of their interviews were filmed in the restored Apollo mission control room.

Watch Apollo 13: Home Safe

After Apollo 13

Jim Lovell completed four space missions with Apollo 13 being his last one. He was also the pilot for Gemini 7, commander of Gemini 12 and command module pilot of Apollo 8. He retired from the Navy and the space program in 1973 and entered the corporate world.

Fred Haise would never go into space again, though he would contribute to the Space Shuttle program, including the Shuttle Approach and Landing Tests.

Jack Swigert also never went back to space, though he was in consideration for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. He would later run for Congress but came up short and would work in the corporate world.

About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive Inc. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 28 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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