Apollo 13 A Successful Failure Essay Research

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Apollo 13: A Successful Failure Essay, Research Paper During a modification of Oxygen Tank No. 2 by NASA contractor, North American Rockwell, it was inadvertently dropped about 2 inches, which caused undetected damage to the interior assemblies. This damage eventually led the failure of the $400-million Apollo 13 mission. The crew of Apollo 13 was responsible for several scientific experiments that were to be carried out during the mission. Atmospheric electrical phenomena experiments were designed to “study certain aspects of launch-phase electrical phenomena.” An opportunity to study large mass impact phenomena on the Moon was available with this mission. Instead of sending the third stage of the launch vehicle into solar orbit, as had been done on previous missions,

the trajectory of the Apollo 13 S-IVB was designed to cause it to hit the lunar surface. Equipment set up during the Apollo 12 mission would have been used to record the seismic signals. The crew was also assigned to install a heat flow experiment designed to measure the amount of heat coming from the inside of the Moon. This data would be used to determine whether the Moon actually had a molten core. This would provide new insight on the internal structure of the Moon. The Apollo spacecraft (CM) was named Odyssey and the lunar module (LM), Aquarius. The CM was a conical pressure vessel with a maximum diameter of 3.9 m at its base and a height of 3.65 m. The CM was divided into three compartments, forward, aft, and the crew compartment. The forward compartment, in the nose of the

cone, contained “the three 25.4 m diameter main parachutes, two 5 m drogue parachutes, and pilot mortar chutes for Earth landing.” The aft compartment, at around the base of the CM, “contained propellant tanks, reaction control engines, wiring, and plumbing.” Most of the volume of the CM, approximately 6.17m, is in the crew compartment. The lunar module was a two-stage vehicle designed for space operations near and on the Moon. The LM was originally designed to support two astronauts for 45 hours. The crew Commander was 42-year-old Navy Captain James A. Lovell, Jr. Lovell’s partner on the moon, the lunar module pilot, was Fred Haise, Jr. Assigned to remain in lunar orbit aboard Odyssey, the command module pilot, Navy Lieutenant Commander Thomas K. Mattingly. “Five

days before the launch date of April 11th, it was discovered that a member of the backup crew, Air Force Major Charles M. Duke, Jr., had come down with rubella (German measles).” The prime crew was given blood tests to determine if they had immunity. Lovell and Haise were cleared, but Mattingly was not. Having recently been exposed to rubella and because it was likely that he could get sick in flight, he was replaced with 34-year-old John L Swigert, Jr., who did have immunity. A test pilot, Swigert had a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Colorado and a Master of Science degree in aerospace science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The crew of Apollo 13 was boosted off Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center, right on time, at 2:13p.m., Easter Standard Time,

Saturday, April 11, 1970. From the sounds, sights, and vibrations given off by the Saturn 5, the most powerful rocket in the world, everything seemed to be going smoothly to the casual observer. However, this was not the case. A series of minor flaws appeared during powered flight up through the atmosphere. Although not directly related, but precursors of the disaster to come two days later as the crew approached the Moon. During the firing of the Saturn 5’s second stage, the center engine in a cluster of five cut off 132 seconds early as a result of unusually large oscillations in thrust chamber pressure. “This caused the remaining four engines to burn 34 seconds longer than planned.” This would, hopefully, take the vehicle to the planned acceleration at second stage