Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Apollo 13 Artifact


Longtime reader and blog supporter Joe Neigut brought my attention to this noble artifact in Building 2 on the JSC campus, which served as the public visitor’s center before the larger "Space Center Houston" tourist facility was built.

Some of you other long-timers may remember Joe (the bedrest studies’ project manager) from a spot on FOX news during my Lunar Study, where we both spoke briefly. He’s the respectable looking one in the necktie; I would be the slacker in the reclined position ;)

I never would have spotted this on my own amid all the other artifacts, so it pays to keep your eyes open around every corner. Thanks Joe!

Inside the glass bubble is the Caution and Warning indicator panel from Apollo 13’s Command Service Module. These were the little buttons that lit up during the explosion that crippled the spacecraft, setting off a chain of events that would require all of NASA’s ingenuity to solve.

Apollo 13 Alarms
Clicket to Embiggen...

Excerpts from the official chronology of events on Apollo 13:

55:54:53 - Master caution and warning triggered by DC main bus B undervoltage. All indications are that the cryogenic oxygen tank No. 2 lost pressure in this time period and the panel separated.

55:56:10 - Haise: "Okay. Right now, Houston, the voltage is -- looking good. And we had a pretty large bang associated with the caution and warning there. And as I recall, main B was the one that had an amp spike on it once before.

55:56:30 - Duke: "Roger, Fred."

Gives me chills. Little did they know what that would mean in terms of their life-threatening situation, and what would occur over the next few days to get them back to Earth!

The inscription reads: With thanks from the crew of Apollo 13 to the men and women of the mission evaluation team and the mission support rooms for the assistance provided in effecting our safe return.

Signed by Mission Commander James A. Lovell, Command Module Pilot John L. Swigert and Lunar Module Pilot Fred W. Haise.

The rest of the Apollo 13 Command Module, Odyssey is on display at the Cosmosphere and Space Center of Hutchinson, Kansas.