Apollo 13 was supposed
to land in the lunar region of Fra Mauro, but this landing site
was later reassigned to Apollo
At 46 hours, 43 minutes
mission elapsed time, Joe Kerwin, the CAPCOM on duty, said, "The
spacecraft is in real good shape as far as we are concerned. We're
bored to tears down here." Nine
hours, 12 minutes later, a Service Module oxygen tank blew up aboard
Apollo 13. The Command Module's normal supply of electricity, light
and water was lost, and they were about 321,869 kilometers (200,000
miles) from Earth.
James Lovell Jr. gasped,
"Hey Houston, we've had a problem here." While looking outside,
Lovell reported to Houston, "We are venting something out into the-
into space". Jack Lousma, the CAPCOM replied, "Roger, we copy you
venting." Lovell said, "It's a gas of some sort." It was oxygen
gas escaping at a high rate from the second, and last, oxygen tank.
A formidable task ahead
for both crew and ground control, plans now changed. The crew moved
to the Lunar Module to escape the decreasing air pressure in the
Service Module. The crew had to conserve food and water. To get
around the Moon and then go home, the Lunar and Command Modules
needed to conserve fuel.
Due to debris from the
explosion, the navigation system was unreliable. The crew used the
Sun as a navigation point to guide the crippled craft back to Earth.
While enduring discomfort and little sleep, the crew moved back
into the cold Command Module, then ejected both the Lunar and Service
Modules. After re-entry, the crew landed safely in the Pacific Ocean
almost four days after the explosion.