By Henry S.F. Cooper Jr.
On April thirteen, 1970 an explosion rocked the moon-bound Apollo thirteen craft, 205,000 miles from Earth, destructive engines and life-support platforms. This minute-by-minute account of the one manned NASA venture to have malfunctioned outdoor Earth's orbit describes the complete episode.
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Perhaps there had been an instrumentation failure, or perhaps there was some other simple explanation. Until he was certain, Liebergot didn’t even report the loss of the cells. “You can’t alarm the crew unnecessarily—you’ll look like a big ass unless you’re sure,” he later said. One simple explanation that occurred to Liebergot was that the jolt or the bang, whatever it was, at eight minutes past nine had disconnected the two fuel cells from the two buses. He therefore suggested to Kranz that Swigert check on whether the cells were in fact hooked up to the buses.
At the moment of the bang, the spacecraft began pitching and yawing about like a depth-charged submarine. Two identical balls set in the dashboard, one in front of Lovell and the other in front of Swigert, appeared to spin erratically. s—sort of three-dimensional compasses that showed which way the spacecraft was pointing. Appearances to the contrary, the balls were actually still, as the compass card in a ship’s binnacle is; it was the spacecraft that was doing the turning. The guidance computer in the spacecraft, which normally held it steady by automatically firing sixteen small thruster rockets outside the service module whenever necessary to correct its attitude, had been unable to stop the wobbling.
The controllers talked to each other over an intercom hookup called the loop. To cut down on what they called loop chatter, which had a way of sounding like random thoughts popping up in a single individual’s mind, the controllers referred to each other by their acronyms or abbreviations: FIDO, GUIDO, RETRO, CAPCOM, EECOM, and so on. ” On April 13, about half an hour before the white spot was seen by Saulietis and his companions, the flight controllers were watching a television show, which the astronauts were broadcasting from the spacecraft, and which was projected on one of the big screens at the front of the room.