daughter and I were creating our own, “Who Do You Think You Are?” Our
ancestors, Michael Woods and his son Archibald Woods were born at
Dunshauglin Castle in County Meath, Ireland in 1683 and 1706
respectively. That seemed like a good place to start. I...
On April 17, 1970 — 45 years ago today — Apollo 13 successfully returned from a near-fatal trip around the Moon for its 3 astronauts, 600-Space Hour Veteran Commander James A. Lovell, Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert, and Lunar Module Pilot Fred W. Haise. Apollo 13 was the third manned mission to the Moon; men going to the moon had become so routine to the public that the Apollo 13 launch was not even covered by the major television networks. The launch did begin in a routine way with the astronauts headed for the Moon. Oddly enough, on April 13, when the Apollo 13 spacecraft was about 200,000 miles from Earth, the service module’s oxygen tanks exploded (as a result of an electrical short-circut), blew off a panel on the service module (see photo below), and crippled their spacecraft — perhaps so much so that the astronauts would be “lost in space.”
The explosion caused a loss of electrical power to the command module. When its battery power had dwindled to 15 minutes left, the command module was shut down to reserve this power for eventual re-entry maneuvering. A decision was quickly made to abort the moon landing and to focus on how to return the astronauts to Earth, if possible. The Lunar Module was powered up and the astronauts transferred to the module to use its air-supply resources. As the astronauts were now close to the Moon, another decision was made to use the “boomerang” gravity effect of the Moon to send Apollo 13 back to Earth as soon as possible. Careful positioning firing of rockets needed to be made in order to target the Pacific Ocean landing zone.
There were no seats in the Lunar Module, but a near gravity free environment made standing and resting easier than it would have been on Earth. But because overall power was being conserved as much as possible, the temperatures in the Lunar Module became quite cold (Lovell said that just before they transferred back into the Command Module prior to re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, the temperature had gone down to 38° F). Moreover, the Apollo was not designed for this configuration: the Lunar Module was designed to descend to the Moon only and to return to the Command and Service Module. The Lunar Module was not designed to guide the entire spacecraft, so ground controllers had to make careful calculations about how to maneuver the spacecraft using the Lunar Module’s engines.
As the spacecraft approached Earth, the astronauts transferred back into the Command Module with little life-supply support time left — just enough to execute critical rocket-firing positioning. It was not known if the Service Module explosion had damaged the heat shield on the Command Module that was essential for re-entry. So the normal “black-out” time in radio communication (usually about 3-½ minutes) with the spacecraft as it enters the atmosphere and its parachutes deploy was harrowing, especially because it was almost 4-½ minutes until the astronauts’ voices were heard and spontaneous applause erupted in Mission Control. The astronauts were coming down within a few miles of the splashdown target zone in the Pacific Ocean! And by this time, people all over the world had learned about the danger of this flight and were glued to their television to watch the recovery!
•“Houston, We’ve Got a Problem” (length 28:20). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ3Q3kL7jcA
•Apollo 13 — The Real Story (length 40:05). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3RSqdj_VnY
•Apollo 13 Re-entry (length 01:00:59). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX8-Vmys-Fk
•Apollo 13 Post-Flight Press Conference (01:15:54). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMMw2QIHBLs
•40th Anniversary of Apollo 13 — Annual John H. Glenn Lecture (length 01:26:56). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDqkBccEcb0
Book & Documentary Film sources:
• Apollo 13: The Untold Story. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HNMMJKW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00HNMMJKW&linkCode=as2&tag=historyknowledge-20&linkId=IUC4BVRAKRZIU2PT
• Apollo 13 by Ron Howard — a “dramatization” not a documentary. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001JI72AI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B001JI72AI&linkCode=as2&tag=historyknowledge-20&linkId=JIBNPZBQB6CJHGIF
•Top Left: Apollo 13 service module with damage from an oxygen tank explosion (external panel blown off exposing inside destruction). By James Lovell, John Swigert, Fred Haise (The Apollo Image Gallery) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
•Top Center: Apollo 13 headlines regarding oxygen tank explosion on April 13, 1970. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0413.html
•Top Right: A photograph of the Moon taken by the Apollo 13 astronaut crew from the Lunar Module (command module is visible outside the Lunar Module’s rendezvous window). By James Lovell, John Swigert, Fred Haise (The Apollo Image Gallery) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AApollo_13_passing_Moon.jpg
•Bottom Left: Apollo 13 command capsule with parachutes deployed in preparation for a landing in the Pacific Ocean. Frame from Apollo 13: The Untold Story.
•Bottom Center: Apollo 13 command capsule at the moment of splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. NASA photograph.
•Bottom Right: Apollo 13 astronauts on the stairs of the rescue helicopter on the recovery U.S. Navy ship. Frame from Apollo 13: The Untold Story.
Please also see this document: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1se0Vn9t190Wi--7ripDYtnQt-8ucb4oIN4mqIh12oco/edit
Apollo 13 circumlunar trajectory; the oxygen tank exploxed about 5-½ hours from entry into the Moon’s gravity field. The Lunar Module had to execute a number of unplanned rocket firings to correct the course so that splashdown would occur in the Pacific Ocean. By AndrewBuck (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AApollo_13_timeline.svg
Security researcher Marc Rogers wrote that it’s “quite possibly the single worst thing I have seen a manufacturer do to its customer base. … I cannot overstate how evil this is.” He’s right. The Lenovo Superfish security hole is really, really bad.
- Bencze in Hungary
- Milutinovich in Serbia
When I'm not working on genealogy, I try to keep up with related technology. My old GNex was recently replaced with a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone. I kept the old Nexus so I can still take photospheres.
My posts will not all be related to genealogy. I have wide ranging interests from Androids and astronomy to zygotes and zucchini. And amusing cats of course.
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Historic Edinburgh Resurrectionist Tour of Greyfriars Kirkyard
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