The Apollo 13 mission was intended to be a "routine" trip to the moon. But when an oxygen tank exploded, the spacecraft was crippled and its three-man crew placed in mortal danger. The Lunar Module, intended for deployment on the lunar surface, would instead be used as a "lifeboat". Scientists and engineers on earth had to reexamine the spacecraft's electrical, navigational and propulsion systems in order to save the crew. NASA faced tough questions. With limited resources, could the crew survive? How would the crippled ship navigate? The explosion left shards of debris floating weightlessly around the ship, obscuring the stars, those celestial markers that have guided explorers for centuries. Course corrections were calculated using the only clearly visible celestial bodies, the sun, the moon and earth. The power of the moon's gravitational pull was used to slingshot Apollo 13 homeward. The mission, which could have had tragic consequences, was a resounding success. It was a test of the accumulated knowledge of all previous Apollo missions and in many ways was NASA's finest hour.moreless
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