Apollo 13: as they pulled it


Day 1 · April 11, 1970

launch announcer The ignition sequence has started. Six, five, four, three, two, one, zero. Lift-off!

commander jim lovell The clock is turning.

astronaut jack swigert Clear the tower.

lovell 2000 feet.

swigert OK, you’re right, Jim. You are right on the trajectory.

astronaut fred haise Look at the horizon over there.

swigert Yes, it is coming.

swigert Houston, how do you read 13?

Mission Control, Houston 13, Houston. Strong and clear.

Earth from space

swigert I’m trying to find out which country we are in.

lovell I have to keep telling Jack that the blue thing over there is water.

Houston I’ll give you a hint. You are in the Western Hemisphere.

Baja California

swigert Okay, Joe. It looks like we crossed the Gulf of Mexico here, and I have a peninsula or an island there. I don’t know if you can see it.

Houston Roger, Jack. We see that. Sure, there is a lot of cloud cover and you see it more clearly than we do, but it looks like Earth, not the moon.

swigert It’s a big hit, Joe. We are separated [from the S-IVB rocket], and we have now tilted about 60 degrees.

Houston Roger, Jack.

lovell As you may know, Joe, I have the headquarters again and I can’t see anything.

Houston Pity.

Earth from space

hate I look out of window five at what I think is the S-IVB, and see what appears to be a double plume …

SIV-B rocket plumes

swigert Hey, Joe, what it looks like, sort of, if you stop behind a guy who’s dragging and you get on it – like he’s walking away from you.

hate It’s a very pretty sight.

SIV-B rocket plumes

lovell Houston, Apollo 13.

Houston Rog. Go ahead, Jim.

lovell Roger. We are now at this stage where we are going to take meteorological pictures of the Earth. If you are standing, I have the camera pointed at Earth at the moment, and I will give you a mark when I take the first photo.

Houston Roger. We’re copying, Jim. We will be there for the brand.

lovell OK, Houston. Three, two, one, brand.

Houston Is the Earth starting to look quite small now?

swigert Well, looking at it here, Vance, it’s hard to be convinced it’s even Earth. All we see is water and clouds.

lovell Vance, according to our calculations, we took about 10 photos of terrestrial window photography. … I was thinking of going to bed for the evening very soon.

Houston OK, that sounds good, Jim. FAO [flight activities officer] here i would like to request another photo before you go to bed if you don’t mind.

lovell OKAY. We will finish with another photo.

hate Three, two, one, brand.

Earth from space

Day 2 · April 12

Houston Hello, 13. This is Houston. How are you?

lovell Read yourself loud and clear. We had a pretty good night’s sleep.

Houston OK fine. … The only important thing about the spacecraft is that it is moving further and further away.

lovell OKAY. Well, that’s normal, I guess.

lovell Hello, Houston; 13.

Houston 13, Houston. Go forward.

lovell My God, we forgot, but we would like to know what the news is.

Houston OKAY. There’s not too much. … The Beatles announced they will no longer play in groups. The quartet is said to have made more than half a billion dollars in its short musical career. However, the rumors that they will use this money to launch their own space program are false.

lovell Maybe we could borrow it.

Houston Today’s favorite pastime across the – uh oh, have you finished your income tax?

lovell How can I request an extension?

Houston (To laugh.)

swigert Yeah, Joe. I have to – hey, listen, it’s not too funny. Things happened very quickly there, and I need an extension.

Houston (To laugh.)

swigert I did not drop mine. I’m really serious, do you want …

Houston We will see.

swigert I may be spending time in another quarantine in addition to the one they plan for me.

Houston We’ll see what we can do, Jack.

lovell Just a passing comment, Joe. We’re having lunch right now, and I just made myself a hot dog sandwich with ketchup. Very tasty and almost unknown in time.

Houston That’s right, 13. If I remember the flight plan, you’re supposed to put mustard on hot dogs, not ketchup, but I guess we’ll forget about it.

Day 3 · April 13

lovell Houston, Houston, Apollo 13. Finished.

Houston Hello, 13.

lovell We are awake and take the form of a spaceship.

Houston Roger. The spacecraft is in very good shape for us, Jim. We are bored of crying here.

Mission control in Houston

Houston Okay, Jim. It was a very good TV show. We think we have to conclude it from now on. What do you think?

lovell Roger, that sounds good. And it’s the Apollo 13 crew who wish everyone a good evening, and we’re about to end our Aquarian inspection and come back for a nice evening at Odyssey. Good night.

TV broadcast approval

Houston Thank you, 13.

Houston 13, we have one more item for you, when you get the chance. We would like you to stir your cryogenic tanks. In addition, I have a tree and a journal to watch Comet Bennett, if you need it.

swigert OK, wait.

swigert OK, Houston…

lovell … Houston…

swigert I think we had a problem here.

Houston This is Houston. Please say again.

lovell Ah, Houston, we had a problem. We had undervoltage on main bus B.

Houston Roger. Main undervoltage B.

Houston OK, wait, 13. We’re looking at this.

hate OKAY. Right now, Houston, the tension is – looks good. And we had a pretty big shot associated with caution and warning [system] The. And if I remember correctly, Main B was the one who had already had an amp peak.

Houston Roger, Fred.

hate In the meantime here, we start to move forward and close the tunnel [between the command module and the unoccupied lunar module].

Houston Roger.

swigert OK, Houston. Are you still reading 13?

Houston This is affirmative. We read to you. We are trying to find good ideas for you here.

hate Fuel cell 1 – nitrogen indicates zero.

Houston Roger. Zero.

lovell And, Jack, our O2 [oxygen] quantity Tank number 2 reads zero. Did you get that?

Houston The amount of O2 number 2 is zero.

lovell … And it seems to me, looking at the hatch, that we are evacuating something. We’re exhaling something in the – in space.

Houston Roger. We copy your breakdown.

lovell It’s a gas in a way.

Houston We start to think about LM [lunar module] rescue boat.

swigert Yes. This is also what we think of.

Houston We think we have about 15 minutes of power left in the control module, so we want you to start moving around in the LM and putting some power on it. And, are you ready to copy your procedure?

hate OKAY.

Houston 13, Houston. We would like you to start heading to the LM now.

swigert Fred and Jim are in the LM.

Houston Okay, Jack. Thank you.

hate And, Jack, I turned LM on.

lovell Houston, Aquarius.

Houston Go ahead, Aquarius.

lovell OKAY. Odyssey is completely off, according to the procedure you read to Jack.

Houston Roger, we’re copying. This is where we want to be, Jim.

Houston Aquarius, Houston. Can you see stars through the LM window?

hate We will have to wipe them off, Jack. They’re covered with water right now.

lovell Can I get a towel?

lovell OKAY. I look out of Fred’s window. I see a lot of particles there, but a lot of these things are still moving away from us, so a lot of them are blinking in the vicinity, and I don’t recognize any constellation right now, in this particular attitude.

Houston Okay, Jim. If this status changes, please notify us.

lovell Roger. We continue to drift.

Houston How do you like this sim[ulation]?

hate It’s a beauty.

Houston We recommend that you do not empty your urine if you can help it, as this will make the debris problem worse. And we have some items you may want to transfer to LM: towels, pen lamps, fecal bags, UTS [urine transfer system]. And do you have any other items we can help you with right now?

hate OKAY. Stay on your last list, Jack. I don’t understand any urine spills. I guess we will work with the UCD [urine collection device] and all the bags we received.

Houston And, Aquarius, Houston. We’re starting to think about the buildup of CO2 in the control module there, so we have a recommendation. And what we recommend is that you take the commander’s hoses from the LM … and then find a way to fix those hoses so that they explode in the CSM [command and service module] by extending them as much as possible through the tunnel.

lovell Houston, we’re trying to extend this commander’s hose using the vacuum hose.

Houston It sounds like a good plan if you can make it happen, Jim.

lovell Well, I fear it will be the last lunar mission in a long time.

hate How do you read?

Houston We read you satisfactorily, Fred.

hate OKAY.

hate Jim and Jack are in the upstairs bedroom napping now.

Houston I didn’t know it was upstairs.

hate We have the first space station.

Houston (To laugh.)

Day 4 · April 14

lovell Boy, we have to get close enough to the moon.

lovell We may need a spare flashlight. Do you have one OKAY. OKAY. The sun has set.

lovell Look at these stars. Houston.

Houston Go ahead, Aquarius.

lovell Roger. We are now in the shadow of the moon. The sun is about as far as I can see and the stars are all coming out.

lovell What is this cloud I see over there?

hate I do not know. It looks like a milky way.

lovell I know what it is. It could be the debris that was dumped there.

hate In the cloud?

lovell It’s all dark now. Explosion.

hate Jack, why don’t you get the other one …?

lovell Okay. We are now going up to Mare Smythii.

lovell Oh, yes, yes, we’re no longer 139 miles away [from the surface]. Had left.

hate Yes, look at this curvature.

lovell It could be [Mare] Crisium over there, Fred.

hate Oh yes. On the horizon there, yes.

lovell Hey if you want to use the 250[mm]? There is a beautiful shot of Tsiolkovskiy that we very rarely have.

lovell Let’s square the cameras; let’s get ready to burn. We now have a chance.

swigert OKAY.

Houston By the way, Aquarius, we now see the results of [Apollo] Seismometer 12. Looks like your [S-IVB] just boost hit the moon, and it tipped him over a bit. More than.

lovell Well, at least something worked on this flight.

Seismic impact graph

hate I’m sure we didn’t have an LM impact either.

hate Houston, do you call Aquarius?

Houston Roger, Fred. I would like to confirm that you are extracting potable water – potable water from the control module.

hate Yes. Jack worked through the procedure and filled as many drinks as he could, and he made 10 bags of about 8 ounces per bag.

Houston OKAY. We copy that.

hate Yes, we also take around a thousand photos between the stages.

lovell I can even see Mount Marilyn [named after Marilyn Lovell, his wife] from here.

Houston Aquarius, Houston. More than.

lovell Go ahead, Houston.

Houston Jim, you’re ready for the burn. Go for the burn.

lovell Roger. I understand. Go for the burn.

lovell We burn, 40%.

Houston Copies of Houston.

lovell 100 per cent.

Houston Roger.

lovell To close.

Houston Roger. To close.

Houston Good burn, Aquarius.

lovell Go forward.

Houston I say it was a good burn.

lovell Roger. And now we want to turn it off as soon as possible.

Houston Roger. Understand.

lovell We are now in the hands of follow-up.

hate Yes. It looks different than before.

hate You can almost see …

lovell See Ptolemy, Alphonse – there is Herschel [near Fra Mauro, their planned landing site].

hate Yes, you can barely see it in the corner there.

Houston We are developing a procedure for you to use the LiOH control module [lithium hydroxide] canisters to connect to your pipes – the outlet pipes in the LM. To keep time flowing in the mission, you can continue to clean up the LM atmosphere.

Houston We wish we could send you a kit and it would be a bit like putting together a model plane or something. In the end, this thing will look like a mailbox after you’ve assembled everything.

hate Jack and I are going to work to try to build this thing. Suppose we are going to use space age baling thread or gray ribbon?

Houston That is true. … You will need a gray ribbon to glue everything together, and you need something like a sock to put in the bottom so that the outlet side is blocked.

hate From the sounds of all the work in progress and in progress, this flight is probably a much more important test for the ground system than here.

Houston Well, everyone here is 100% optimistic. Looks like we’re on the positive side of it all now.

hate Jack, I can certainly say that we are moving away from the moon now. I put everything in the monocular at the same time.

A blurred moon

lovell Fred is relieved now. He returned to rest. Lovell here has the duty.

Houston Gee whiz. You got up a bit early, right?

lovell It’s cold out there in the control module.

Houston Jim, you will be splashing about 560 miles southeast of Samoa at about 0800 local time.

lovell Roger. Could you tell the people of the LRL [Lunar Receiving Laboratory, a three-week quarantine facility] to turn it off?

Houston Oh no. We will do everything.

Houston I suggest we go ahead and break up those lithium hydroxide tanks and make two. Jack could work there. It’ll take four sets of hands, I think.

lovell I’m going to give Jack the headset for a moment and he will copy your instructions.

Houston Okay, Jack. Has anyone ever told you that you got a 60-day extension to your income tax? More than.

swigert Yes. I think – I think someone said that when you are out of your country, you get a 60-day extension.

swigert OK, Houston; Aquarius.

Houston Aquarius, Houston. Go forward.

swigert OKAY. Our change of do-it-yourself lithium hydroxide cartridge is complete.

The lithium hydroxide can

Houston Configure the second cartridge in the control module in the same way as you just did the first, using the commander’s hose, and get it all.

Houston Is it a little cold up there?

hate Yes. We made the mistake of putting up the blinds, which we won’t do again, and with this power off mode, we don’t generate much internally, and it was really cold.

Houston Yes. I guess you will have to generate your own heat for a while.

Houston Deke says to disassemble the Exer-genie [in-flight exerciser].

hate OKAY.

hate I was just going to say that we have not had a discharge of water overboard from the clear on the other side of the moon. Around this time, we are running out of bags that we have on board here.

Houston OKAY. I’m – I’m stupid this morning, Fred. I’m not sure where you’re coming from.

hate Okay, Joe. We need a place to put the urine.

Day 5 · April 15

Houston And Jack, Houston. For your information, FIDO [flight dynamics officer] tells me that we are in the sphere of influence of the Earth and that we are starting to accelerate.

swigert I thought it was time we crossed. Thank you.

hate With all these other procedures you’ve been working on, I thought I was going to have a new one for you. How to separate four cubes of gingerbread? I think they were stuck with epoxy.

Houston Is it in the food bag?

hate Yes.

Houston This is to support launch and boost charges.

hate Roger. Tool B did the trick.

Houston Hi, Fred. John says you can use the levees [diagonal cutters] to separate them.

hate Yes, that probably wouldn’t have crumbled them as well. I don’t usually use the subtle approach. You can tell that we feel pretty good, Vance, when we start to complain about the food.

swigert Right now we are getting two sets of CWG [cotton underwear] sure.

swigert It’s not uncomfortable at all in Aquarius, but it’s definitely cold in Odyssey.

Houston Roger.

Houston Our readings here indicate that your LM cabin is as cold as the control module cabin. Is it correct?

lovell Well, we really don’t know. There are usually two people in the LM cabin, and that’s a lot – it seems a lot more compact, and so we don’t notice the coldness here as we do in the control module.

Houston OKAY.

Day 6 · April 16

hate Houston, Aquarius.

Houston Go ahead, Aquarius.

hate How far are we now, Jack?

Houston OK, Aquarius. You go 150,000 miles and you get 4,500 feet per second. It comes from Earth.

hate OKAY.

lovell Joe, you could pass on to our friends in crew systems that lunar boots make great foot warmers.

Houston I guess you also need it up there. Is anyone sleeping in the command module right now, Jim?

lovell Negative, Joe. It’s just too cold in there.

lovell Another note of interest to crew systems people: Tell them they don’t have to worry about putting the refrigerator on board. I just got out of the hot dogs, and they’re practically frozen.

Houston (Laughs) OK. We copy that, Jim.

hate How do you read, Vance?

Houston Hey, loud and clear, Fred. Understand that you did some cleaning in the spring and that you moved the storage up there.

hate You would not believe this LM right now. These are just floor-to-ceiling bags.

hate And there was a flight data we needed that we didn’t bring this time.

Houston What was that?

hate It’s a big book with lots of old blank pages.

Houston Yes, when you get a face value, why, you just need scratch paper, right?

hate Yes.

swigert OK, going back to the fridge.

Houston Hey, I thought it was the bedroom.

swigert Well, it has a new name now because it’s about 30 degrees less.

Houston Roger. Let’s go back to the deep freeze.

lovell Houston, Aquarius.

Houston Go ahead, Jim.

lovell OKAY. We have no more water in the drinking water tank. We tried to extract it a few minutes ago, and there is none.

Houston We understood that you had put water from this tank in bags, and I wondered if there were any bags left.

swigert Negative.

Houston OKAY.

swigert All windows on the control module are currently heavily coated with water. So I don’t know what kind of photos we will get from them, but I will try to clean them up and do my best with the 250mm Hasselblad lens.

Houston Roger.

Day 7 · April 17

Houston I know none of you are really sleeping because it’s so cold, and you might want to dig up the medical kit there … and take out some Dexedrines [stimulants] a piece …

lovell Well, I hadn’t raised this issue. We could – we could consider it.

Houston OKAY. I wish we could find a way to make you a cup of hot coffee. It would probably taste good now, wouldn’t it?

lovell Certainly yes. You don’t realize how cold this thing gets.

Houston Hang on. It won’t be long now.

lovell Yes. That is true. In fact, doing this alignment on Earth this time will be like landing with a foggy windshield.

Houston Aquarius, Houston.

lovell Go ahead, Houston.

Houston OK, Skipper. We have found a way for you to stay warm. We decided to start putting you on now.

lovell Sounds good, and are you sure we have a lot of electric power to do it?

Houston This is affirmative.

lovell It’s going to be interesting today, Jack. The Earth is much larger; the croissant is much more pronounced than it was yesterday.

Houston Well, you’re going in the right direction.

lovell That is true.

lovell And it’s a little warmer here now. Thank you.

Houston Duck blinds are always hotter, Jim, when the birds are flying.

lovell Right.

lovell The sun is magnificent. It shines in the appointment window.

Houston Keep warm?

swigert Hey, it’s hot here now. It’s almost comfortable.

lovell I’m looking out the window now, Jack, and this Earth is whistling like a high speed freight train.

Houston We point you at 48,000 miles and arrive at around 9,000 [feet per second].

lovell I don’t think there’s a lot of LMs who’ve seen him like that. I’m still looking for Fra Mauro and Cone Crater.

Houston You’re going the wrong way, son.

Houston Aquarius, Houston. We have 10 seconds to nine minutes for the burn. Three, two, one… brand. Nine minutes.

lovell Very well.

hate We are burning.

Houston Copy that, Fred.

Houston Good show, Aquarius.

lovell We’re fine-tuning now, Joe.

Houston Roger. Aquarius, Houston. You are where you are.

lovell OKAY. That’s all.

hate OKAY. If you are satisfied, can we maneuver to repair the sep module[aration] attitude now?

Houston That’s affirmative, Aquarius.

Houston Hey Jim, did you burst into the medical kit as per my recommendation a few hours ago?

lovell Yes. Everything is taken care of, Deke.

Houston OK fine. You could hit it again in about two hours.

lovell OKAY.

lovell SM sep.

Houston Well received.

lovell Do you see it, Jack?

lovell OK, I have it, Houston.

Houston Beautiful beautiful. … More than.

lovell And it’s missing an entire side of this spaceship.

Houston Is it correct?

lovell Right next to – Look over there, would you? Right next to the high gain antenna, the entire panel is blown, almost from the base to the engine.

Houston Well received.

The damaged service module

Houston Okay, Jim. We would like you to get some photos, but we want you to keep RCS [thrusters]. Do not make unnecessary maneuvers.

lovell Okay. She’s drifting right outside our windows now, Houston.

Houston OKAY.

hate It’s incredible!

lovell And, Joe, looks like a lot – a lot of debris is just lying on the side near the S-band antenna.

Houston Roger, Jim.

lovell Jack just got out of the tunnel and said the computer was OK.

Houston OKAY. It’s good to hear it.

lovell Well, I cannot say that this week has not been filled with excitement.

Houston Well, James, if you can’t take better care of one spaceship than that, we couldn’t give you another one.

Houston OK, Aquarius; Houston. With the current power you have in the LM, … we think you have almost 12 hours of power left.

lovell 12 noon, huh? We could go home with it.

Houston That is true. That’s enough for two touch-and-go and a full stop, Jim.

lovell That’s right, Joe. If you could dig a crater like Cone Crater, I could hit it.

Houston (Laughs.) Okay.

Houston OK, you will begin to power up the control module.

lovell Right-o. We are starting now.

Houston We have the AOS control module [acquisition of signal]. Ask for Omni Charlie in the CM. More than.

lovell Omni Charlie. OKAY. Be ready. To come up.

Houston OKAY.

lovell This was sent via a new on-board communication system known as howling through the tunnel.

lovell I brought Fred up there with Jack who is now helping to power up the CM, and I’m staying in good old Aquarius.

Houston Understand, Jim.

Houston Just to let you know. We have data from – from Odyssey, and it looks good.

lovell Hey, great.

Houston OK, Odyssey, Houston.

swigert Go forward.

Houston You look good on the field, Odyssey.

hate OKAY.

lovell OK, Houston; Aquarius. I’m on the LM Sep attitude and plan to bail out.

Houston OKAY. I can’t think of a better idea, Jim.

swigert OKAY. We are ready to proceed to the close-up of the hatches.

Houston OKAY. Did Jim release the Aquarius film?

swigert Yes. We – you mean the movie we filmed this morning?

Houston That is true.

swigert Yes, we transferred this.

Houston Odyssey, Houston. We just had an official meeting for LM jett[ison] at your convenience. More than.

swigert OKAY. Thanks, Joe.

swigert 10 seconds.

lovell Five. The release of LM.

Houston OK, copy that. Farewell, Aquarius, and we thank you.

Houston Okay, Jim. Your cabin looks really good. We recommend that you deactivate the combination compressor now. More than.

lovell I leave. It’s beautiful and calm here.

swigert Joe, how far are you showing us now?

Houston Oh, on our board here, we can barely see how far you are.

swigert OKAY.

swigert I know we all want to thank everyone here for the great work you have done.

lovell That’s right, Joe.

Houston I’ll tell you – we all had a good time doing it.

Houston You look good. We are very satisfied with the trajectory, and a minute ago, we just lost contact with your Aquarian friend.

swigert OKAY. Where has she gone?

Houston Oh, I don’t know. She’s up there somewhere.

swigert She was certainly a good ship.

swigert I wish I could go to the FIDO party tonight.

Houston (Laughs.) Yes, it’s going to be wild.

Houston Someone said, “We’ll cover you guys – what if Jack has phone numbers he wants us to call them, why pass them on. “

Houston Odyssey, Houston. More than.

swigert Go forward.

Houston OK, LOS [loss of signal during re-entry] is about a minute or a minute and a half… and welcome home. More than.

swigert Thank you.

Houston Odyssey, Houston. We show you about the sector, it really looks great. I have you on TV, baby.

Recovery helicopters Apollo 13, Apollo 13, is Recovery. More than. Apollo 13.

Apollo 13 Falls

swigert Go forward. See you loud and clear as you walk 5000 [feet].

Recovery helicopters Roger, Apollo 13. It’s Recovery and your falls look good.


Recovery helicopters Splashdown right now. The three falls are moved. They’re in the water.

This project combines condensed mission transcripts with selected photographs taken by Apollo 13 astronauts: James A. Lovell Jr., Fred W. Haise Jr. and John L. Swigert Jr.

Sources: NASA; Apollo flight log; NASA scientific visualization studio; U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center; Paul White. Photos from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Apollo Project archives and the gateway to astronaut photography of Earth. Seismometric map modified from Highlights of Astronomy, International Astronomical Union.


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