On this day in 1970, things got a bit hairy for the crew aboard Apollo 13. An oxygen tank on the moon-bound spacecraft ruptured, leaving the three-man crew with little time to figure out a way to get back to Earth.

Early on the evening of April 13, the astronauts pressurized the lunar module Aquarius, and Lovell and Haise passed from the command module Odyssey through the connecting tunnel while checking all systems for the forthcoming landing. Suddenly, as Lovell was moving through the tunnel on his way back from Aquarius to Odyssey, a loud explosion was heard. All three astronauts quickly gathered in Odyssey to study the instruments in an effort to determine what had happened. Noting that one of the main electrical systems aboard was degrading, Swigert radioed the information to mission control in Houston, quickly turning a routine flight into one of the most exciting episodes in space history.”

About an hour after the accident, mission control acted fast. They announced that an alternate mission was now in place. They were going to swing around the Moon and use the lunar module power systems to get the three men home. Aquarius would serve as a lifeboat, while the disabled Apollo 13 swung around the Moon and headed home.

It was on this mission that the now-famous quote, "Houston we have a problem" originated. In the 1995 movie Apollo 13, starring Tom Hanks, The "Houston we have a problem" line was actually misquoted. In the original audio from the spacecraft, astronaut Jim Lovell actually says "Houston, we've had a problem."

The anxiety for the safety of the astronauts was felt in every corner of the globe, and millions of persons remained glued to television and radio sets as the perilous journey unfolded.  From the early morning hours of Apirl 14th, CBS News Anchor Walter Cronkite covered the Apollo 13 mission in Breaking News mode.



[via History]


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