Minute 064: Did We Miss a Step Here?

January 17, 2019

ABC News Science Editor Jules Bergman is on the Lovell TV set, talking about the mishap, and explaining the LM’s use as a…

“-life boat,” continues Bergman, “so they’ll have electrical power for their radios on the Command Module. Apollo 13 is also apparently losing breathing oxygen, and the astronauts may have to use the LM -”

Marilyn crosses in front of the TV while on the phone with NASA.

“So, what exactly does that mean?” she asks.

Pete and Jane Conrad are at the Lovell house. Pete is on another phone in Jim’s den. Jane watches the ABC report while daughters Susan and Barbara Lovell watch with her.

“The emergency has ruled out any chance of a lunar landing, ” says Bergman, “and could endanger the lives of the astronauts themselves.  If the LM oxygen supply, plus whatever’s left of the Command Module’s oxygen can’t last them until they can get back to Earth.”

“What do you mean there’s no immediate danger?” says Marilyn into the phone. “I – I just heard they’re losing oxygen! Can they get back?

“It’s not clear if the LM’s descent engine will be used in aborting the mission, ” continues Bergman, “and getting the astronauts safely back to Earth. Recapping what has happened now: the Apollo 13 astronauts may be in grave danger…”

“No, don’t give me that NASA bulls–t!” says Marilyn into the phone. “I want to know what’s happening with my husband!”

Back in Aquarius, Jim and Freddo are working through checklists.

“Okay,” says CAPCOM, “We want to switch control to Aquarius now.”

“Roger that,” says Jack Swigert in Odyssey.

“Houston, wait!” says Lovell.

“And you’re down to about five minutes,” continues CAPCOM, as Swigert is flipping switches on the Command Module panels.

Both ships shudder.

“Whoa,” says Freddo, “The RCS isn’t up yet!”

“Houston,” repeats Jim Lovell, “Be aware: our RCS isn’t up here yet! We have no attitude control on Aquarius!”

The ships tumble in deep space between the Earth and the Moon.

CAPCOM looks at Glynn Lunney.

“They don’t have control?” asks Lunney. “Did we miss a step here? Control? What the hell?”


Jules Bergman: Himself
Marilyn Lovell: Kathleen Quinlan
Pete Conrad: David Andrews
Jane Conrad: Michele Little
Barbara Lovell: Mary Kate Schelhardt
Susan Lovell: Emily Ann Lloyd
Jim Lovell: Tom Hanks
Jack Swigert: Kevin Bacon
Fred Haise: Bill Paxton
CAPCOM: Brett Cullen
Glynn Lunney: Marc McClure

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