Minute 103: Ignition

May 13, 2020

Swigert continues the countdown. “7, 6, 5, 4…” Lovell sticks his slippers onto the Velcro-lined floor pad.

Haise knocks the -X RCS motors “Ullage is go,” says Haise.

“…3, 2, 1,” finishes Swigert.

“Ignition,” says Lovell, and the LM descent engine fires up.

“She’s burning!” says Haise.

“Oh yeah,” agrees Lovell.

“Master arm off,” reports Swigert.

“Okay, here we go!” says Haise.

“Helium regulator on,” says Lovell. RCS thrusters are firing madly as the two spacecraft spin.

“RCS is go, 10 percent thrust,” says Swigert, reading the gauges.

“Bring her around, Freddo,” says Lovell. The Earth slides by the left LM window.

“I’m trying, but it’s draggin’,” replies Haise.

“10 seconds,” says Swigert. In Mission Control, Gene Kranz and Glynn Lunney listen in on the conversation via radio.

“All right. Drop it down, Freddo,” says Lovell. In Mission Control, the Grumman Rep nervously smokes a cigarette.

“We’re drifting! No, hold what you’ve got!” continues Lovell. “I’ll roll it. Back off!”

“I can’t get it stable,” says Haise. “She’s dancing all over the place!”

“Come to the right a little bit,” says Lovell. The Earth slides by Lovell’s window again.

“15 seconds,” says Swigert.

“She’s drifting, I’m losing attitude,” says Haise. Marilyn Lovell listens at home via her NASA squawk box.

“Okay, says Lovell. “Hold it up there. Back! No, Freddo! Back!”

“Sh-t, I’m losing it!” yells Haise.

“20 seconds,” says Swigert.

“Bring the earth up,” says Haise.

“Forward, Fred, come on,” says Swigert. “Forward.” Haise pushes forward on the joystick.

“Sh-t, Sh-t. I lost it!” yells Haise. “Where is it? Where is it!”

“Seven o’clock!” replies Lovell. “Helium regulator’s closed.” The LM continues to thrust.

“Bring it down, Freddo,” says Lovell. “Just nose it down!”

“Uh, Okay,” says Haise. “I… I got it!”

“Thirty seconds,” says Swigert.

“Okay, she’s coming in,” says Haise. The spacecraft is now thrusting towards the Earth.

“Little farther, ease your touch,” says Lovell. “Damn it! Damn it, that’s mine. That’s me.” Lovell’s fingers are wrapped around the joystick.


Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell

Kevin Bacon as Jack Swigert

Bill Paxton as Fred Haise

Ned Vaughan as CAPCOM

Kenneth White as Grumman Rep

Ed Harris as Gene Kranz

Marc McClure as Glynn Lunney

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