‘We believed we had lost them,’ says a NASA flight director on the Apollo 13 mission.
EXCLUSIVE: “Houston, we have a problem” is one of the most renowned phrases in the solar system. After a bursting oxygen tank destroyed one of the spacecraft’s fuel cells, astronaut Jack Swigert said it for the first time on April 13, 1970, 55 hours, 55 minutes, and four seconds into the journey of Apollo 13.
This major incident, which occurred 200,000 miles away from Earth, stunned Mission Control, and the scientists at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston went silent. “You could have heard a pin drop in the room,” says Gerry Griffin, a flight director on the day who spoke exclusively to the Daily Express from his home in Houston. Everyone realized the three astronauts — Commander Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Swigert – were in a life-or-death crisis. They needed to return to Earth as soon as possible. They were running out of air and fuel, so it was a desperate race against the clock.
John Aaron, a NASA flight controller, recognized the gravity of the issue right away.
“What was running through our minds was, ‘They are a long way from home,’” he recalled.
We were smacked with something we never expected in our wildest dreams or all our what-if scenarios.”
Gene Cernan, an astronaut who would later become the final man to walk on the moon on the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, was also in the room that day, assisting with communications.
He also recalls the gloomy sense of foreboding that pervaded Mission Control at the time.
“Failure may not have been an option for a long time, but it was lurking in the dark sky.
It was simply challenging us to make a blunder.” Houston had a serious problem.
The personnel of Mission Control went into overdrive, working for three days straight in the same clothing, trying to come up with a solution.
“Sleep meant nothing, personal problems meant nothing,” Cernan recalls. We had only one goal in mind: to get these soldiers home.”
Mission Control, on the other hand, never lost faith during these trying hours. “It never occurred to us,” says Sy Liebergot, who was stationed at the “Electrical Environmental and Communications” console. Brinkwire Summary News