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14th of April 2020
50th Anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission, with crew members Jim Lovell, John Swigert and Fred Haise. The dramatic events of the mission are re-told by Hamish Lindsay in an essay on the honeysucklecreek.net website.

Apollo 13 was launched from Florida at 14:13 local time on 11 April 1970 (05:13 AEST on Sunday 12 April). The plan was for the crew to stay in the Command and Service Module (CSM) until reaching the moon, when Lovell and Haise would transfer to the Lunar Module (LM) for the descent to the lunar surface. The first two days of the flight to the moon went much as scheduled, until 13:06 AEST on 14 April, when the switching on of a fan to stir the contents of an oxygen tank resulted in the tank exploding. The loss of fuel cells for the CSM meant the crew had to move to the LM. An immediate return to Earth was ruled out, meaning the crew would have to continue on to the Moon, swing around it, and return to Earth. The LM, which was only designed for two people for 45 hours, would have to support three bodies jammed in it for 90 hours. It was immediately realised there wasn’t enough water or power in the LM to last the voyage back to Earth, and planning to conserve resources would be critical.

At 10:21 AEST on 15 April Apollo 13 flew behind the Moon and lost contact with the tracking stations on Earth for almost 25 minutes. The image above shows the view from the Lunar Module, Aquarius, as it rounded the moon with the Command Module visible at right. (Image credit: NASA Johnson Sapce Center scan from the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal and Honeysucklecreek.net)

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