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Watch Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the Service Module (SM) upon which the Command Module (CM) depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to make makeshift repairs to the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.
The flight passed the far side of the Moon at an altitude of 254 kilometers (137 nautical miles) above the lunar surface, and 400,171 km (248,655 mi) from Earth, a spaceflight record marking the farthest humans have ever traveled from Earth. The mission was commanded by James A. Lovell with John L. Jack Swigert as Command Module Pilot and Fred W. Haise as Lunar Module Pilot. Swigert was a late replacement for the original CM pilot Ken Mattingly, who was grounded by the flight surgeon after exposure to German measles.
Commander Jim Lovell
Fourth and last spaceflight
Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert
Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise
Prime and backup crew
According to the standard crew rotation in place during the Apollo program, the prime crew for Apollo 13 would have been the backup crew for Apollo 10 with Mercury and Gemini veteran L. Gordon Cooper in command. That crew was composed of
L. Gordon Cooper, Jr (Commander);
Donn F. Eisele (Command Module Pilot);
Edgar D. Mitchell (Lunar Module Pilot).
Deke Slayton, NASAs Director of Flight Crew Operations, never intended to rotate Cooper and Eisele to another mission, as both were out of favor with NASA management for various reasons (Cooper for his lax attitude towards training, and Eisele for incidents aboard Apollo 7 and an extra-marital affair). He assigned them to the backup crew simply because of a lack of flight-qualified manpower in the Astronaut Office at the time the assignment needed to be made. Slayton felt Cooper had no more than a very small chance of receiving the Apollo 13 command, if he did an outstanding job with the assignment, which he did not. Despite Eiseles issues with management, Slayton always intended to assign him to a future Apollo Applications Program mission rather than a lunar mission, but this program was eventually cut down to only the Skylab component.
Thus, the original assignment Slayton submitted to his superiors for this flight was:
Alan B. Shepard, Jr (Commander);
Stuart A. Roosa (Command Module Pilot);
Edgar D. Mitchell (Lunar Module Pilot).
For the first time ever, Slaytons recommendation was rejected by management, who felt that Shepard needed more time to train properly for a lunar flight, as he had only recently benefited from experimental surgery to correct an inner ear disorder which had kept him grounded since his first Mercury flight in 1961. Thus, Lovells crew, backup for the historic Apollo 11 mission and therefore slated for Apollo 14, was swapped with Shepards crew and the original crew selection for the mission became:
Original crew photo.
Left to right: Lovell, Mattingly, Haise
Commander James A. Lovell, Jr.
Command Module Pilot T. Kenneth Mattingly II
Lunar Module Pilot Fred W. Haise, Jr.
Commander John W. Young
Command Module Pilot John L. Jack Swigert
Lunar Module Pilot Charles M. Duke, Jr
Ken Mattingly was originally intended as the Command Module Pilot. Seven days before launch, the Backup Lunar Module Pilot, Charlie Duke, contracted rubella from one of his children. This exposed both the prime and backup crews, who trained together. Mattingly was found to be the only one of the other five who had not had rubella as a child and thus was not immune. Three days before launch, at the insistence of the Flight Surgeon, Swigert was moved to the prime crew.
Mattingly never contracted rubella, and was assigned after the flight as Command Module Pilot to Youngs crew, which later flew Apollo 16, the fifth mission to land on the Moon.
Vance D. Brand;
Jack R. Lousma;
Joseph P. Kerwin.
Gene Kranz (lead) – White Team;
Glynn Lunney – Black Team;
Milt Windler – Maroon Team;
Gerry Griffin – Gold Team.
Apollo 13 flown silver Robbins medallion
The astronauts mission insignia was sculpted as a medallion titled Steeds of Apollo by Lumen Martin Winter and was struck by the Franklin Mint.