On this day April 17, 1970

The Apollo program mission, the ill-fated Apollo 13 spacecraft splashdown safely at point 21°38′S 165°22′W / -21.633, -165.367, SE of American Samoa and 6.5 km (4 mi) from the recovery ship, USS Iwo Jima.

Crewmen aboard the U.S.S. Iwo Jima, prime recovery ship for the Apollo 13 mission, hoist the Command Module aboard ship. The Apollo 13 crewmen were already aboard the Iwo Jima when this photograph was taken. The Apollo 13 spacecraft splashed down at 12:07:44 p.m., April 17, 1970 in the South Pacific Ocean.

Apollo 13 was the third manned lunar-landing mission, part of Project Apollo under NASA in the United States. The crew members were Commander James A. Lovell, Command Module pilot John L. “Jack” Swigert, and Lunar Module pilot Fred W. Haise.

It launched on April 11, 1970 at 13:13 CST. Two days after the launch, the Apollo spacecraft was crippled by an explosion, caused by a fault in an oxygen tank. The explosion damaged the Service Module, resulting in a loss of oxygen and electrical power. The crew used the Lunar Module as a “lifeboat” in space.

The command module remained fully functional on its internal batteries, but they were needed for re-entry and landing so it was shut down shortly after the accident. Despite great hardship caused by severe constraints on power, cabin heat, and potable water, the crew successfully returned to Earth. The mission was thus called a “Successful Failure”.

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