Watch CBS News

52 years ago today 'successful failure' Apollo 13 blasted into space

(CBSNewsTexas) - On this day in April 1970, Apollo 13, blasted to the skies and beyond with astronauts James A. Lovell, Fred W. Haise and Jack Swigert, inside. It was the seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space program and the third meant to land on the moon.

But the mission was aborted when an oxygen tank in the service module ruptured April 13. The blast prompted the famous transmission, "Houston, we've had a problem."

The lunar landing and moonwalks, which Lovell and Haise would have executed, were aborted as a team of flight controllers and engineering experts in the Apollo Mission Control Center devoted their efforts  developing a plan to shelter the crew in the lunar module (named Aquarius) as a "lifeboat" and retain sufficient resources to bring the spacecraft and its crew back home safely. 

Splashdown happened safely four days after the explosion, in the Pacific Ocean at 1:07 p.m. April 17, after a flight that lasted five days, 22 hours and 54 minutes.

NASA has referred to the mission previously as a "successful failure," for showing what happened when thousands worked collectively to return the shuttle fleet to flight.

Ultimately the mission helped the space agency fulfill its exploration, returning to the moon, eventually Mars (said NASA) and beyond. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.