NASA Connection

NASA Connection

The first two days, the crew ran into a couple of minor surprises, but generally Apollo 13 was looking like the smoothest flight of the program. At 46 hours 43 minutes, Joe Kerwin, the CapCom on duty, said, “The spacecraft is in real good shape as far as we are concerned. We’re bored to tears down here.” It was the last time anyone would mention boredom for a long time.

The message came in the form of a sharp bang and vibration. Jack Swigert saw a warning light that accompanied the bang, and said, “Houston, we have a problem here.” Lovell came on and told the ground that it was a main B bus undervolt. The time was 2108 hours on April 13.

A most remarkable achievement of Mission Control was quickly developing procedures for powering up the Command Module after its long cold sleep. Flight controllers wrote the documents for this innovation in three days, instead of the usual three months.

“During the mission, a number of other young women and I typed the flight plan. We all wore headsets, so if an engineer wanted a particular message on the flight plan at a certain time, we would type it, and it would be displayed on the screen in the control room. We worked in eight-hour shifts. The control center was in total chaos. The Flight Director and Flight Engineers, with concerned looks on their faces, kept making changes to the flight plan, some of which were given to me for the screen display on the big screen. Then, all of a sudden, there they were, parachutes open and landing in the ocean. It was a tremendous challenge for the engineers. I felt like I was a part of history, if only in a small way.”

Recollections Pat Benoist Dewey