Home / Science / Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise tells unsuccessful mission: "We never came to the edge of the cliff"

Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise tells unsuccessful mission: "We never came to the edge of the cliff"



On April 11, 1970, NASA astronaut Fred Haise prepared to follow the footsteps of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and walk on the Moon's surface.

When Apollo 13 was launched in the sunny Florida skies on top of a Saturn V rocket on Saturday night, the mission drew attention to NASA's third landing attempt. Haise, the mission's lunatic modot pilot, would be the only sixth person to go on the moon surface, just after Apollo 13 Mission Commander Jim Lovell, who would be fifth.

But 56 hours later when Apollo 13 was about 200,000 miles from Earth, an oxygen tank exploded in the spacecraft's service module. The mission's objectives quickly changed from exploration to survival.

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"After the explosion when I drove back into the mothership, the command module, I had been in the moon module that made a TV – Actually, I had just done it and I looked at the panel and realized that we had lost oxygen tank 2, "he explained. "I was sincere, immediately sick in the stomach with disappointment, I knew we had lost the landing mission."

  The Apollo 13 launch. (NASA)

The Apollo 13 launch. (NASA)

"[I] did not think it was life-threatening … we had a new tank, it looked intact," said Haise, who spoke at a preview event for Christie's auction "One Giant Leap: Celebrating Space Exploration 50 years after Apollo 11. "

But the oxygen container 1 was damaged.

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"It took a while, actually over probably 20 minutes or more, for the realization became clear that there was leakage, a slow leak, but still a leak in thank you, "Haise said. "Only then did we think it was life-threatening. We got very busy with the people in Mission Control, tried to have different isolations and changed to try to isolate the leak and it went on for almost up to an hour – at that time we came into that we had gone out of ideas, they and ourselves. "

  Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise.

Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise.
(NASA)

At that time, Haise and Lovell left with the astronaut, Jack Swigert, in the command module and went to power up the Lunar Module. "We knew we would need to at least provide communication, environmental systems and propulsion, probably trying to get us home," he said. "It bought time for people to work with the situation we had in hand and develop an alternative plan."

Collaboration with Mission Control survived many astronauts challenges. With carbon dioxide in the lunar module reaching a dangerous level, the crew must adapt lithium hydroxide containers intended for the command module to work in the Lunar Module. A sponge of debris from the explosion also made navigation difficult. The dramatic events are depicted in the hit Hollywood movie "Apollo 13", where Haise is depicted by late actor Bill Paxton.

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The experience of lack of sleep, food and water in the cold spacecraft, Haise, Lovell and Swigert experienced extreme physical discomfort when guiding Apollo 13 back to earth.

  Kevin Bacon, Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton, who portrayed Fred Haise, spoke in ships on a scene from the movie "Apollo 13", 1995.

Kevin Bacon, Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton, who portrayed Fred Haise, talked in ships on a scene from film "Apollo 13", 1995.
(Photo by Universal / Getty Images)

Still, Haise Fox News said he was always convinced that the mission would do it at home. "There was never a point where we hadn't come where we needed – to have something else thought out, and it wasn't clear," he explained. "We never came to the edge of the cliff."

When the world saw breath, Apollo 13 returned to Earth's atmosphere on April 17 and splashed in the South Pacific. "When you finally understand you, you've probably got it done, is when you look out the window and see the big gutters," he said. "Of course we were very happy to come back to that point. It had been very miserable for the last three and a half days, it still got very cold and humid in the spacecraft."

BUZZ ALDRIN, SECOND TELL APOLLO & INSIDE STORY IN RARE, NEWS RELEASED INTERVIEWS [19659023] Apollo 13 spacecraft parachutes to the earth, just before splashdown in the Southern Pacific after its interrupted landing mission, April 17, 1970. (Photo by Space Frontiers / Getty Images) [19659007] Apollo 13 spacecraft parachutes to Earth, just before splashdown in the Southern Pacific after its interrupted lunar landing mission, April 17, 1970. (Photo by Space Frontiers / Getty Images)

Haise got sick during the mission so he had to miss the celebration aboard the recycling ship U.S.S. Iwo Jima.

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The astronaut, who had been the backup module pilot for Apollo 11, remained in the Apollo program, although the financing problems unfortunately counteracted his ambition to return to the moon. He continued to act as a technical assistant to the Space Shuttle Orbiter Program Manager and, in 1977, flew Space Shuttle Prototype Enterprise approaches and landing tests.

  Mission Control celebrates Apollo 13 splashdown.

Mission Control celebrates Apollo 13 splashdowns.
(NASA)

He left NASA in 1979 and joined the Grumman Aerospace Corporation.

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  The Apollo 13 crew party - from left to right is Mission Commander Jim Lovell, Command Module pilot Jack Swigert and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise (NASA)

Apollo 13 crew portrait – from left to right is Mission Commander Jim Lovell, Command Module pilot Jack Swigert and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise (NASA)

While he never had to set foot on the moon surface, Haise got to see the earth's natural satellite near when Apollo 13 passed by the Moon's far side.

"For me it was a little sad, when we went, I could look at [the] From Mauro [region on the Moon] where we hoped we would land on Apollo 13," he told Fox News. "But otherwise the view was spectacular."

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @ jamesjrogers


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