'Houston, we've had a problem': 50 years after Apollo 13's near-tragedy
Apollo 13 was supposed to be NASA's third lunar landing mission but an oxygen leak necessitated an emergency return home.
Members of the original Apollo 13 crew, from left, commander Jim Lovell, command module pilot Ken Mattingly, and lunar module pilot Fred Haise pose in December 1969.
Days before the mission, the crew was inadvertently exposed to German measles. Mattingly had no immunity to the virus and was replaced by backup command module pilot, Jack Swigert.
The Apollo 13 Saturn V rocket lifts off from Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, Florida on April 11, 1970.
The moon landing that never was
An artist's conception from March 1970 shows Lovell and Haise exploring the surface of the moon. Behind them is the lunar module.
But the lunar landing was not to be. Instead, some 56 hours into the Apollo 13 mission, on April 13, 1970, oxygen tank No. 2 exploded, causing oxygen tank No. 1 to also fail. The command module's normal supply of electricity, light, and water was lost as they flew more than 200,000 miles from Earth.
Swigert saw a warning light that accompanied the bang and radioed mission control: "Houston, we've had a problem here."
Working on a rescue
Astronauts and flight controllers monitor the console activity in Mission Control on April 14.
Seated, left to right, are control room guidance officer Raymond Teague and Apollo 14 astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard. Standing, left to right, are scientist-astronaut Anthony England and backup Apollo 14 crew members Joe Engle, Eugene Cernan, and Ronald Evans.
The news in France
Parisians stop on the sidewalk to read about the Apollo 13 accident.
The aborted mission went from being so humdrum that none of the major U.S. TV networks broadcast the astronauts’ show-and-tell minutes before the explosion, to a life-and-death drama gripping the entire world.
Prayers in England
School children in Coventry pray for the astronauts' safe return on April 15.
Far side of the moon
During Apollo 13's lunar pass on April 14, the crew captured this view of the Tsiolkovsky crater on the far side of the moon, the hemisphere that always faces away from Earth.
Tense moments at Mission Control
Flight controllers and NASA officials confer at the flight director's console on April 16, as they attempt to bring the crippled spacecraft home.
A view of Earth captured by an Apollo 13 crew member during their journey home.
The severely damaged Apollo 13 service module was photographed following its jettison on April 17.
The damage to the service module caused the crew to use the lunar module as a "lifeboat." It was also jettisoned just prior to Earth re-entry later that day.
Flight directors applaud the splashdown of the Apollo 13 crew.
Recovering the crew
A Navy helicopter hovers over the Apollo 13 capsule in the South Pacific as frogmen release the astronauts on April 17. The USS Iwo Jima recovery vessel waits nearby.
Aboard the life raft
Haise steps into the life raft, center, as the crew is recovered. Swigert, back to camera, is already in the raft. Lovell is the last man out of the module.
Aboard the Iwo Jima
From left, Haise, Lovell, and Swigert step aboard the USS Iwo Jima.
Relieved family members
Marilyn Lovell stands with her children, from left, Susan, Barbara, and Jeffrey, as she speaks to the media after her husband's safe splashdown on April 17.
Ticker tape parade
Confetti pours from skyscrapers in Chicago's financial district on May 1, 1970, as Swigert, waving at left, and Lovell ride in a motorcade during a parade in their honor.