Who has not heard of the “miracle out of the mishap” that allegedly took place on Apollo 13 on April 13, 1970? How’s that for occult numerology, especially when considering the fact that Apollo 13 was launched at “1:13 pm Houston time, or 13:13 on a 24-hour military clock”?!
There are several absurd aspects to this supposed space accident that was made world-famous by Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon in the movie APOLLO 13. The most ridiculous of these was the implausible way that the 3 astronauts saved the spacecraft as it plummeted back to Earth. This tall tale is so ludicrous on the face of it that only a certified idiot would believe it. One need only watch the movie to see for themselves. Apollo 13 Movie
Here’s a clip:
And here is a 30 minute propaganda documentary on the event:
Approximately six and a half minutes after the TV broadcast – approaching 56:00:00 – Apollo 13 was about 180,000 nautical miles (210,000 mi; 330,000 km) from Earth. Haise was completing the shutdown of the LM after testing its systems while Lovell stowed the TV camera. Jack Lousma, the CAPCOM, sent minor instructions to Swigert, including changing the attitude of the craft to facilitate photography of Comet Bennett.
The pressure sensor in one of the SM’s oxygen tanks had earlier appeared to be malfunctioning, so Sy Liebergot (the EECOM, in charge of monitoring the CSM’s electrical system) requested that the stirring fans in the tanks be activated. Normally this was done once daily; a stir would destratify the contents of the tanks, making the pressure readings more accurate. The Flight Director, Kranz, had Liebergot wait a few minutes for the crew to settle down after the telecast, then Lousma relayed the request to Swigert, who activated the switches controlling the fans, and after a few seconds turned them off again.
Ninety-five seconds after Swigert activated those switches, the astronauts heard a “pretty large bang”, accompanied by fluctuations in electrical power and the firing of the attitude control thrusters. Communications and telemetry to Earth were lost for 1.8 seconds, until the system automatically corrected by switching the high-gain S-band antenna, used for translunar communications, from narrow-beam to wide-beam mode. The accident happened at 55:54:53 (03:08 UTC on April 14, 10:08 PM EST, April 13). Swigert reported 26 seconds later, “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” echoed at 55:55:42 by Lovell, “Houston, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a Main B Bus undervolt.”
Lovell’s initial thought on hearing the noise was that Haise had activated the LM’s cabin-repressurization valve, which also produced a bang (Haise enjoyed doing so to startle his crewmates), but Lovell could see that Haise had no idea what had happened. Swigert initially thought that a meteoroid might have struck the LM, but he and Lovell quickly realized there was no leak. The “Main Bus B undervolt” meant that there was insufficient voltage produced by the SM’s three fuel cells (fueled by hydrogen and oxygen piped from their respective tanks) to the second of the SM’s two electric power distribution systems. Almost everything in the CSM required power. Although the bus momentarily returned to normal status, soon both buses A and B were short on voltage. Haise checked the status of the fuel cells and found that two of them were dead. Mission rules forbade entering lunar orbit unless all fuel cells were operational.
In the minutes after the accident, there were several unusual readings, showing that tank 2 was empty and tank 1’s pressure slowly falling, that the computer on the spacecraft had reset and that the high-gain antenna was not working. Liebergot initially missed the worrying signs from tank 2 following the stir, as he was focusing on tank 1, believing that its reading would be a good guide to what was present in tank 2; so did controllers supporting him in the “back room”. When Kranz questioned Liebergot on this, he initially responded that there might be false readings due to an instrumentation problem; he was often teased about that in the years to come. Lovell, looking out the window, reported “a gas of some sort” venting into space, making it clear that there was a serious problem.
Since the fuel cells needed oxygen to operate, when Oxygen Tank 1 ran dry, the remaining fuel cell would shut down, meaning the CSM’s only significant sources of power and oxygen would be the CM’s batteries and its oxygen “surge tank”. These would be needed for the final hours of the mission, but the remaining fuel cell, already starved for oxygen, was drawing from the surge tank. Kranz ordered the surge tank isolated, saving its oxygen, but this meant that the remaining fuel cell would die within two hours, as the oxygen in tank 1 was consumed or leaked away. The volume surrounding the spacecraft was filled with myriad small bits of debris from the accident, complicating any efforts to use the stars for navigation. The mission’s goal became simply getting the astronauts back to Earth alive.
The critical point here is that NASA needed a credible way to gradually kill the Apollo program. Running such a multi-year con was getting more difficult to pull off and demanding technologically. Putting the astronauts in such serious jeopardy while the whole world looked on was just the trick. And then making a popular movie out of it with famous all-American boy actors really sealed the deal. Those NASA cheerleaders and space-race diehards throughout the US Government would never again press the matter in Congress after Apollo 13 nearly crashed and burned. End of story.
From that day onward, the wind slowly came out of the sails of America’s space program. It just never generated the same level of interest in the country. The prospect of losing even more astronauts because of outright negligence would only cast NASA under the negative light it so richly deserved. See: NASA = Never A Straight Answer (Video)