At 2:13pm ET on April 11th, 1970, astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert left earth aboard Apollo 13 on a mission meant to land on the Moon. 55 hours after take-off, at 9:07pm on April 13th, an oxygen tank ruptures, flooding oxygen into space, making a landing on the moon impossible. You know the rest of the story right? Probably from the Ron Howard film “Apollo 13“.
That film was inspired by the book, “LOST MOON: THE PERILOUS VOYAGE OF APOLLO 13“. JEFFREY KLUGER Co-Authored the book with Jim Lovell. Jeffrey is a TIME Magazine Senior Editor and has joined me on The First Day Show a few times because we both love talking about missions to space!
“LOST MOON” later re-titled to “APOLLO 13” was Jeffrey Kluger’s 1st book. “in 1991 I wanted to tell the story, but was advised that I would need to get an astronaut to get it published. I got Jim Lovell’s address through NASA…sent him a letter and he responded! He said he was just getting ready to retire and wanted to do a book, so YES he’d do the book. I couldn’t believe I’d have the opportunity to collaborate with my childhood hero!”
The spacecraft and its crew made it back home safely on April 17th. 92 year old Jim Lovell, and 86 year old Fred Haise still stay in touch. Jack Swigert died 11 years after the mission. “April 15th, Jim and Fred often talk on what Jim calls “BOOM DAY” the day of the explosion. He acknowledges it every year.”
Does not having the opportunity to walk on the Moon still haunt Jim Lovell today? “I think Jim made his peace with it a long time ago. If he had a choice between walking on the moon and Apollo 13 being remembered as one of the other missions, or the choice between becoming the mission it did…one of the great tales of American ingenuity and on-the-fly improvisation…I’m not sure if he had it to do over again he’d do it any differently. I think of the 3 great space missions of all time are Apollo 8, Apollo 11 and 13 one of the greatest American tales ever told and Jim flew on 2 of those, 8 and 13, so I think Jim is happy the way history played out.
Jeffrey Kluger is Senior Editor at TIME Magazine overseeing their Science, Health and Technology Reporting. Check out his latest story in the history section titled, NASA Saw Apollo 13 as a Fiasco. 50 Years Later, Astronaut Jim Lovell Has Made Peace With the ‘Successful Failure’