Unlucky Apollo 13

When Apollo 13 launched on April 11, 1970, the world wasn’t all that excited. Going to the Moon had become routine; the Vietnam war and Paul McCartney leaving the Beatles were bigger stories in America. The one aspect of the mission that did have people talking was its numeric designation: 13. Man’s greatest scientific endeavour was about to go head to head with one of its most enduring superstitions. Read my full article on Discovery News. (Left, the damage sustained to Apollo 13’s service module when the oxygen tank exploded, taken by the crew before reentry, 1970. It’s worth noting that NASA has never since launched, nor does it plan to launch, another mission designated ’13.’)


4 thoughts on “Unlucky Apollo 13

  1. While there were medical problems involved with Apollo 13, Shepard wasn’t the one. He had been suffering from Menière’s disease for somewhat 5 years and was grounded due to this condition. Tom Stafford, his to-be copilot for the Gemini mission he would have flown, suggested he should contact dr. William House. This surgeon performed a (for that time) risky operation on the commander (who was bearing the pseudonym Victor Poulos). Some time later his health was rechecked and he was declared cured from this nauseating disease. He immediately claimed the next Apollo mission for him and a crew but NASA let didn’t him because of the lack of experience he had. Training and studying got him, Stu Roosa and Ed Mitchell to the moon with Apollo 14 and doing so restoring faith in the U.S. manned lunar program.
    Also, by the way, in the end Ken Mattingly never got the measles.

  2. Actually they were incredibly lucky. Had that tank exploded after the LM had separated NASA would have lost all three astronauts.

    1. That’s a good point, Graham, and very true. All things considered, they were extremely lucky NASA found the solutions they did in time. It’s a fascinating story!

    2. …that it didn’t go that way indeed is an incredibly lucky coincidence. *shudders to think*
      Close calls, also an interesting bunch stories. (STS-27 for example)

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