When disaster hit the Apollo 13 module, historians have traditionally said that a crisis was averted thanks to the efforts of both Houston ground control and the crew of the Apollo mission. But recently scientific findings suggest the disaster may have actually spared the bodies of the ill fated Apollo 13 mission had they drifted, returning them to Earth rather than sending them into the far reaches of space.
Those remembering the story of the Apollo 13 mission will realize the harrowing implications of the crew drifting off into space where they would have certainly frozen to death within a matter of hours if not days. The line made famous from the mission, “Houston we have a problem,” would have most certainly been an understatement had a malfunction onboard not forced them to return to Earth. But a computer simulation has discovered that the Apollo 13 module would not have, as is traditionally accepted, drifted away into space but would have rather returned to Earth shortly after the incident and burned up in the atmosphere. Andred Chaikin, who assisted with the programming of the computer simulation, has been a space historian for years and written several pieces on his work while investigating the Apollo 13 disaster and its potential outcomes. While working with Analytical Graphics Inc, Chaikin discovered the real potential outcome of what would have happened had the Apollo 13 disaster not been rectified by diligent and competent teams working to guide the module back to Earth and the vigilant and heroic crew of the Apollo 13.
And after the simulation was complete, Analytical Graphics sat on the information until the 40th anniversary of the mission. The incident was one of the most inspiring ever to show how humanity can work together to overcome incredibly unlikely odds even in the light of disaster and return home from one of the longest journeys a human has ever undertaken guided by components less technologically advanced than a digital watch.
The mechanisms in the craft were failing constantly due to the intense impact an exploded oxygen tank had caused, and there were times when the ground crew lost sight of the Apollo 13 crew and communications were disrupted, and tensions onboard the vessel were high as they took the long largely unguided journey home to Earth, but still against all odds the Apollo 13 crew managed to get back in time alive and unharmed.
After the mission, Jim Lovell the captain of the Apollo 13 mission wrote a memoir about his experience, but none of them would ever reach space again. After being elected for Apollo 19, Fred Haise was disappointed when the mission was canceled. Though they had undertaken one of the greatest journeys in mankind’s history, they never were able to reach their goal of the Lunar surface. Of course Thomas K. Mattingly, who had been grounded due to a belief that he had German measles actually did successfully fly the Apollo 16 mission. And the moon has remained largely an unexplored enigma since that time.