Apollo 13 Experience Finally Relived

By Ben Hamill - April 22 2020

Apollo 13 Experience Finally Relived

When astronauts James A. Lowell Jr., Fred W. Haise Jr. and John L. Swigert Jr. stepped into the what they had deemed to be safe enclosing of the Apollo 13 fifty years ago, the last thing they had expected was that they had just become part of one of the most spectacular lunar failures of the American space agency, NASA, but at the same time also one of the most poignant events in the history of humanity. Apollo 13 was on a moon mission that on nearly all counts of logic reasoning, based on what was about to happen shortly after launch, should have ended in disaster, but against every odd in the book, didn’t.

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And in a time when humanity once again grapples to stay afloat and alive, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of exactly that lunar flight, and thanks to NASA having now for the first time unveiled a website that allows people to literally relive the Apollo 13 experience as it unfolded, we’re able to once again draw strength from how we’re able to not only beat literally any challenge, but emerge in triumph on the other side of potential disaster. 

Reconstructing The Events

According to official NASA website designer and software engineer Ben Feist, the Toronto-based expert who spent literally years of his life and career working with a support team looking through some 7,300 hours’ worth of audio and video footage and photographs in order to lay out chronologically what had happened during the 150-hour Apollo 13 mission, what the astronauts at onboard the mission to the moon considered at the time to have been a failure beyond measure, turned into one of the most important achievements of the lunar space program.

What had made Apollo 13’s story even more remarkable was the particularly short frame of time in which it had all taken place. The famous lunar mission’s problems had in fact started a mere 56 hours after launch when upon mission commander Jim Lovell having done a final task and check before retiring for the night, which included stirring the cryogenic oxygen in the tanks designed to provide electricity by way of a fuel cell system, was met any astronaut’s worst nightmare. Lovell had barely begun stirring the tank, when something happened that led to the astronauts hitting the radio to call out a line that would later go on to become nearly as famous (and often slightly misquoted!) as the moon mission itself: “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

The tank had exploded.

We’re Capable Of Everything

What followed next involved a relatively young team at Mission Control going from assessing the problem to eventually ordering the 3 astronauts into the lunar lander and instructing them on how to go about using the vessel as a lifeboat, to basically sling-shooting the lander around the moon and back down to earth into the icy waters of the South Pacific Ocean. And all in a matter of only 90 hours following the fateful explosion that had set a truly important series of historical events in motion.

What had started out an event that should according to all odds have led to a superb failure and human disaster, had ultimately led to a show of what was possible when flawed human beings pulled together as one.

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