“Houston, we’ve had a problem,” were the words of Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell when an explosion crippled the spacecraft and threatened the lives of the crew. What started as a terror that threatened their lives and for days gripped the attention of the world became one of the great adventures of manned spaceflight, now 50 years ago this month.
Apollo 13 was to be the third attempt by NASA astronauts to land on the Moon. Apollo missions were manned by three astronauts taking off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Once they reached the Moon, a lunar module would detach from a command module. The lunar module would reach the surface where two astronauts would then explore the surface, collect rock samples, and conduct experiments. The command module would orbit above, with the lunar module reattaching to the command module after taking off from the lunar surface. Once they returned to Earth, a re-entry capsule would detach from the command module for the descent through the atmosphere to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
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