Minute 069: Free Return Trajectory

January 31, 2019

FIDO White Team Jerry Bostick is in favor of a free-return trajectory. “It’s the option with the fewest question marks for safety.”

“I agree with you,” says Kranz, “Use the Moon’s gravity, slingshot them around.”

“No,” says the Grumman representative, “The LM will not support three guys for that amount of time!”

“It barely holds two,” says another controller.

“I mean, we’ve got to do a direct abort, ” continues the Grumman guy. “We do an about-face, we bring the guys right home, now.”

“Get ’em back soon,” says another controller. “Absolutely.”

“We don’t even know if the Odyssey’s engine’s even working,” replies Bostick. “There’s been serious damage to this spacecraft –”

“– they blow up and they die!” finishes GUIDO.

“That is not the argument!” says the Grumman guy. “We are talking about time! Not whether or not these guys –”

“I’m not going to sugar coat this for you!” replies GUIDO.

“Okay, hold it,” says Kranz, “Let’s hold it down. Let’s hold it down, people. The only engine we’ve got with enough power for a direct abort is the SPS on the Service Module. From what Lovell has told us, it could have been damaged in an explosion, so let’s consider that engine dead. If we light that up, it could blow the whole works. Just too risky. We’re not gonna take that chance. About the only thing the Command Module’s good for is re-entry, so that leaves us with the LM — which means free return trajectory.   Once we get the guys around the Moon, we’ll fire up the LM engine, make a long burn, pick up some speed, and get ’em home as quick as we can. ”

“Gene?” asks one of the controllers.


Kevin Bacon as Jack Swigert
Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell
Bill Paxton as Fred Haise
Ed Harris as Gene Kranz
Ray McKinnon as FIDO White Team Jerry Bostick
Andy Milder as GUIDO White Team

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