« Return to TeachersFirst Main Site

Dates That Matter

April 13, 1970

Apollo 13 reports serious problems on board.

 Why does it matter?

Apollo 13 was the third manned space flight to the moon, and launched on April 11. Two days later, astronauts reported an explosion aboard, which damaged power and oxygen components of the space ship. Rather than attempt a moon landing, the ship was forced to return to earth, but the astronauts had to improvise several repairs in order to have enough oxygen for the three crew members to survive the remainder of the trip. At a time when the US space program had been extremely successful, the accident on Apollo 13 was a serious setback. In truth, the words spoken by Command Module Pilot John L. Swigert to the ground control crew were "OK, Houston, we've had a problem here," but the popularity of the Apollo 13 movie starring Kevin Bacon, Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton as the three astronauts, has substituted "Houston, we have a problem" as the better-known catchphrase.

For more information...

Apollo 13
From the National Air and Space Museum, this site covers the Apollo 13 mission and includes information about the crew, the intended landing site, and a nice gallery of photographs from the mission.

Human Space Flight--Apollo history
A NASA site covering the entire Apollo space program, including its 11 crewed flights. There is a nifty Flash-enabled animation showing the components of the spaceships and the flight trajectories.

The main home page for NASA. There are links to resources for kids and educators on space travel in general, and on the newest NASA programs.