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11 April 2010

On this day in history: Launch of Apollo 13, 1970

On 11th April 1970, a Saturn V rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying the crew of the Apollo 13, James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert and Fred W. Haise, on what was intended to be the third manned landing on the Moon. Two days into the mission a faulty oxygen tank caused an explosion that damaged the oxygen supply and electrical systems of the Command Module, Odyssey. The astronauts and ground crew faced a race against time to find a solution to the life threatening situation and achieve a return to Earth.

The astronauts used the Lunar Module, Aquarius, as a 'lifeboat', reducing energy consumption and making repairs to the oxygen supply system. The three travelled around the Moon, using its gravity to set a course back to Earth. Following a difficult journey the crew managed to splashdown safely on 17th April.

To learn more about the Apollo 13 see the Lunar Surface Journal for the mission at the NASA web site.

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