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Apollo 13

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970, at 2:13 p.m. EST from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

On board were the crew, commander James A. Lovell, Jr., command module pilot John L. Swigert, Jr., and lunar module pilot Fred W. Haise Jr.

After a television broadcast made during the trip from the Earth to the moon, Jack Swigert turned the fans on to stir the oxygen in tanks located in the service module. Unknown to the astronauts as well as everyone else, wires inside one of the tanks had been damaged during pre-flight testing causing a short. When the fans were switch on, the short caused heat which ignited teflon insulation within the tank. The fire raised the pressure and caused the oxygen tank to explode. The explosion damaged the second oxygen tank.

With no oxygen available in the command module, the crew transferred to the lunar module and powered down the command module. The lunar module became a life boat for the crew.

The lunar module descent propulsion system (LMDPS) was used to place the spacecraft on a free-return trajectory which took it around the Moon and began its return to Earth.

During the return trip from the moon, the lunar module was powered down (except for environmental control, communications, and telemetry) to conserve power and consumables.

On April 17, the service module was jettisoned giving the crew their first look at the damage. Then the command module was powered up and the lunar module jettisoned.

Apollo 13 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on April 17, 1970.


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