Apollo 13, We Have a Solution: Part 2

The crew was alive. But how was mission control going to get the astronauts back to Earth?

16 min read
Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

With the lunar module's life support systems coming on line, the immediate threat of death to the crew had been suspended, and it was time to start thinking about how to get the astronauts home.

Jerry Bostick was the chief of the flight dynamics branch, the part of mission control that looks after a spacecraft's trajectory—where it is, where it's going, where it should be, and how to get it there. The controllers of the flight dynamics branch sat in the front row of mission control, which they had proudly dubbed “the Trench." As they listened to the crew in space and the systems controllers in the row behind them struggle with the explosion's aftermath, “we went into the mode of okay, well, can we come back home immediately?" remembers Bostick. The Trench soon calculated that if the crew used the Odyssey's main engine and burned every last drop of fuel, they could turn around and come straight back to Earth, a procedure known as a direct abort.

Keep reading... Show less

Stay ahead of the latest trends in technology. Become an IEEE member.

This article is for IEEE members only. Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Video Friday: Drone in a Cage

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
A drone inside of a protective geometric cage flies through a dark rain

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

ICRA 2022: 23 May–27 May 2022, PHILADELPHIA
IEEE ARSO 2022: 28 May–30 May 2022, LONG BEACH, CALIF.
RSS 2022: 21 June–1 July 2022, NEW YORK CITY
ERF 2022: 28 June–30 June 2022, ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
RoboCup 2022: 11 July–17 July 2022, BANGKOK
IEEE CASE 2022: 20 August–24 August 2022, MEXICO CITY
CLAWAR 2022: 12 September–14 September 2022, AZORES, PORTUGAL

Enjoy today’s videos!

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Remembering 1982 IEEE President Robert Larson

He was a supporter of several IEEE programs including Smart Village

3 min read
A photo of two men in suits.  One behind the other.

Robert Larson [left] with IEEE Life Fellow Eric Herz, who served as IEEE general manager and executive director.

IEEE History Center

Robert E. Larson, 1982 IEEE president, died on 10 March at the age of 83.

An active volunteer who held many high-level positions throughout the organization, Larson was the 1975–1976 president of the IEEE Control Systems Society and also served as IEEE Foundation president.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less