FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION
THIS BOOK gives the real deal, blow by blow of NASA in action. After studying
the film the book is really interesting....problem solving!!
FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION
FOUNDATIONS OF MISSION CONTROL
From the APPENDIX:
To instill within ourselves these qualities essential for professional
Discipline being able to follow as well as lead, knowing that we
must master ourselves before we can master our task.
Competence There being no substitute for total preparation and
complete dedication, for space will not tolerate the careless or indifferent.
Confidence Believing in ourselves as well as others, knowing
that we must master fear and hesitation before we can succeed.
Responsibility Realizing that it cannot be shifted to others,
for it belongs to each of us; we must answer for what we do, or fail to do.
Toughness Taking a stand when we must; to try again, and again,
even if it means following a more difficult path.
Teamwork Respecting and utilizing the ability of others, realizing
that we work toward a common goal, for success depends on the efforts of all.
To always be aware that suddenly and unexpectedly we may find ourselves in
a role where our performance has ultimate consequences.
To recognize that the greatest error is not to have tried and failed, but
that in trying, we did not give it our best effort.
Apollo 13 is one of the films listed by top
executives as affecting their leadership style. Also excellent for problem
solving in action.
Crew: John L. Swigert, Jr., James A. Lovell, Jr.,
Fred W. Haise, Jr.
- Pad 39-A (7)
- Saturn-V AS-508
- High Bay 1
- MLP 3
- Firing Room 1
- 06/13/69 - S-IVB ondock at KSC
- 06/29/69 - S-II Stage ondock at KSC
- 06/16/69 - S-1C Stage ondock at KSC
- 07/07/69 - S-IU ondock at KSC
- 04/11/70 - Launch
Odyssey (CM-109) and Aquarius (LM-7)
13 was supposed to land in the Fra Mauro area. An explosion on board
13 to circle the moon
without landing. The Fra Mauro site was reassigned to Apollo
- Saturday, April 11, 1970 at 13:13 CST.
- At five and a half minutes after liftoff, Swigert, Haise, and Lovell felt
a little vibration. Then the center engine of the S-II stage shut down two
minutes early. This caused the remaining four engines to burn 34 seconds
longer than planned, and the S-IVB third stage had to burn nine seconds
longer to put Apollo
13 in orbit.
- Days before the mission, backup LM pilot Charlie Duke inadvertently
exposed the crew to German measles. Command module pilot, Ken Mattingly,
turned out to have no immunity to measles and was replaced by backup command
module pilot Jack Swigert.
- Ground tests before launch, indicated the possibility of a poorly
insulated supercritical helium tank in the LM's descent stage so the flight
plan was modified to enter the LM three hours early in order to obtain an
onboard readout of helium tank pressure.
- The No. 2 oxygen tank, serial number 10024X-TA0009 had been previously
installed in the service module of Apollo
10, but was removed for modification (and was damaged in the process of
removal). The tank was fixed, tested at the factory, installed in the Apollo
13 service module. and tested again during the Countdown Demonstration Test
(CDT) at the Kennedy Space Center.beginning
March 16, 1970. The tanks normally are emptied to about half full, and No. 1
behaved all right. But No. 2 dropped to only 92 percent of capacity. Gaseous
oxygen at 80 psi was applied through the vent line to expel the liquid
oxygen, but to no avail. An interim discrepancy report was written, and on
March 27, two weeks before launch, detanking operations were resumed. No. 1
again emptied normally, but No. 2 did not. After a conference with
contractor and NASA personnel, the test director decided to "boil
off" the remaining oxygen in No. 2 by using the electrical heater
within the tank. The technique worked, but it took eight hours of 65-volt DC
power from the ground-support equipment to dissipate the oxygen. Due to an
oversight in replacing an underrated component during a design modification,
this turned out to severely damage the internal heating elements of the
- Altitude: xxx miles
- Inclination: xxx degrees
- Duration: 05 Days, 22 hours, 54 min, seconds
- Distance: miles
- Lunar Location: None
- Lunar Coords: None
- April 17, 1970
- Third lunar landing attempt. Mission was aborted after rupture of service
module oxygen tank. Classed as "successful failure" because of
experience in rescuing crew. Spent upper stage successfully impacted on the
- The first two days the crew ran into a couple of minor surprises, but
13 was looking like the smoothest flight of the program. At 46 hours 43
minutes Joe Kerwin, the CapCom on duty, said, "The spacecraft is in
real good shape as far as we are concerned. We're bored to tears down
here." It was the last time anyone would mention boredom for a long
- At 55 hours 46 minutes, as the crew finished a 49-minute TV broadcast
showing how comfortably they lived and worked in weightlessness, Lovell
stated: "This is the crew of Apollo
13 wishing everybody there a nice evening, and we're just about ready to
close out our inspection of Aquarius (the LM) and get back for a pleasant
evening in Odyssey (the CM). Good night."
- Nine minutes later, Oxygen tank No. 2 blew up, causing No. 1 tank also to
fail. The Apollo
13 command modules normal supply of electricity, light, and water was
lost, and they were about 200,000 miles from Earth.
- The message came in the form of a sharp bang and vibration. Jack Swigert
saw a warning light that accompanied the bang, and said, "Houston,
we've had a problem here." Lovell came on and told the ground that it
was a main B bus undervolt. The time was 2108 hours on April 13.
- Next, the warning lights indicated the loss of two of Apollo
13's three fuel cells, which were the spacecrafts prime source of
electricity. With warning lights blinking on, One Oxygen tank appeared to be
completely empty, and there were indications that the oxygen in the second
tank was rapidly being depleted.
- Thirteen minutes after the explosion, Lovell happened to look out of the
left-hand window, and saw the final evidence pointing toward potential
catastrophe. "We are venting something out into the- into space,"
he reported to Houston. Jack Lousma, the CapCom replied, "Roger, we
copy you venting." Lovell said, "It's a gas of some sort." It
was oxygen gas escaping at a high rate from the second, and last, oxygen
- (by James A. Lovell, from Apollo Expeditions to the Moon,
- by Edgar M. Cortright, NASA SP; 350, Washington, DC, 1975 )
- The first thing the crew did, even before discovering the oxygen leak, was
to try to close the hatch between the CM and the LM. They reacted
spontaneously, like submarine crews, closing the hatches to limit the amount
of flooding. First Jack and then Lovell tried to lock the reluctant hatch,
but the stubborn lid wouldn't stay shut. Exasperated, and realizing that
there wasn't a cabin leak, they strapped the hatch to the CM couch.
- The pressure in the No. 1 oxygen tank continued to drift downward; passing
300 psi, now heading toward 200 psi. Months later, after the accident
investigation was complete, it was determined that, when No. 2 tank blew up,
it either ruptured a line on the No. 1 tank, or caused one of the valves to
leak. When the pressure reached 200 psi, the crew and ground controllers
knew that they would lose all oxygen, which meant that the last fuel cell
would also die.
- At 1 hour and 29 seconds after the bang, Jack Lousma, then CapCom, said
after instructions from Flight Director Glynn Lunney: "It is slowly
going to zero, and we are starting to think about the LM lifeboat."
Swigert replied, "That's what we have been thinking about too."
- Ground controllers in Houston faced a formidable task. Completely new
procedures had to be written and tested in the simulator before being passed
up to the crew. The navigation problem had to be solved; essentially how,
when, and in what attitude to burn the LM descent engine to provide a quick
- With only 15 minutes of power left in the CM, CapCom told the crew to make
their way into the LM. Fred and Jim Lovell quickly floated through the
tunnel, leaving Jack to perform the last chores in the Command Module. The
first concern was to determine if there were enough consumables to get home?
The LM was built for only a 45-hour lifetime, and it needed to be stretched to
90. Oxygen wasn't a problem. The full LM descent tank alone would suffice,
and in addition, there were two ascent-engine oxygen tanks, and two
backpacks whose oxygen supply would never be used on the lunar surface. Two
emergency bottles on top of those packs had six or seven pounds each in
them. (At LM jettison, just before reentry, 28.5 pounds of oxygen remained,
more than half of what was available after the explosion).
- Power was also a concern. There were 2181 ampere hours in the LM
batteries, Ground controllers carefully worked out a procedure where the CM
batteries were charged with LM power. All non-critical systems were turned
off and energy consumption was reduced to a fifth of normal, which resulted
in having 20 percent of our LM electrical power left when Aquarius was
jettisoned. There was one electrical close call during the mission. One of
the CM batteries vented with such force that it momentarily dropped off the
line. Had the battery failed, there would be insufficient power to return
the ship to Earth.
- Water was the main consumable concern. It was estimated that the crew
would run out of water about five hours before Earth
reentry, which was calculated at around 151 hours. However, data from Apollo
11 (which had not sent its LM ascent stage crashing into the Moon
as in subsequent missions) showed that its mechanisms could survive seven or
eight hours in space without water cooling. The crew conserved water. They
cut down to six ounces each per day, a fifth of normal intake, and used
fruit juices; they ate hot dogs and other wet-pack foods when they ate at
all. The crew became dehydrated throughout the flight and set a record that
stood up throughout Apollo: Lovell lost fourteen pounds, and the crew lost a
total of 31.5 pounds, nearly 50 percent more than any other crew. Those
stringent measures resulted in the crew finishing with 28.2 pounds of water,
about 9 percent of the total.
- Removal of Carbon Dioxide was also a concern. There were enough lithium
hydroxide canisters, which remove carbon dioxide from the spacecraft, but
the square canisters from the Command Module were not compatible with the
round openings in the Lunar Module environmental system. There were four
cartridges from the LM, and four from the backpacks, counting backups.
However, the LM was designed to support two men for two days and was being
asked to care for three men nearly four days. After a day and a half in the
LM a warning light showed that the carbon dioxide had built up to a
dangerous level. Mission Control devised a way to attach the CM canisters to
the LM system by using plastic bags, cardboard, and tape- all materials
carried on board.
- One of the big questions was, "How to get back safely to Earth?"
The LM navigation system wasn't designed to help us in this situation.
Before the explosion, at 30 hours and 40 minutes, Apollo
13 had made the normal midcourse correction, which would take it out of
a free-return-to-Earth trajectory and put it on a lunar landing course. Now
the task was to get back on a free-return course. The ground computed a
35-second burn and fired it 5 hours after the explosion. As they approached
another burn was computed; this time a long 5-minute burn to speed up the
return home. It took place 2 hours after rounding the far side of the Moon,
- The Command Module navigational platform alignment was transferred to the
LM but verifying alignment was difficult. Ordinarily the alignment procedure
uses an onboard sextant device, called the Alignment Optical Telescope, to
find a suitable navigation star. Then with the help of the onboard computer
verify the guidance platform's alignment. However, due to the explosion, a
swarm of debris from the ruptured service module made it impossible to sight
real stars. An alternate procedure was developed to use the sun as an
alignment star. Lovell rotated the spacecraft to the attitude Houston had
requested and when he looked through the AOT, the Sun was just where it was
expected. The alignment with the Sun proved to be less than a half a degree
off. The ground and crew then knew they could do the 5-minute P.C. + 2 burn
with assurance, and that would cut the total time of our voyage to about 142
hours. At 73:46 hours the air-to-ground transcript describes the event:
- Lovell: O.K. We got it. I think we got it. What diameter
- was it?
- Haise: Yes. It's coming back in. Just a second.
- Lovell: Yes, yaw's coming back in. Just about it.
- Haise: Yaw is in....
- Lovell: What have you got?
- Haise: Upper right corner of the Sun....
- Lovell: We've got it!
- If we raised our voices, I submit it was justified.
- "I'm told the cheer of the year went up in Mission Control. Flight
Director Gerald Griffin, a man not easily shaken, recalls: "Some years
later I went back to the log and looked up that mission. My writing was
almost illegible I was so damned nervous. And I remember the exhilaration
running through me: My God, that's kinds the last hurdle -- if we can do
that, I know we can make it. It was funny, because only the people involved
knew how important it was to have that platform properly aligned." Yet
Gerry Griffin barely mentioned the alignment in his change-of-shift briefing
-- "That check turned out real well" is all he said an hour after
his penmanship failed him.
- James A. Lovell ( Apollo Expeditions to the Moon,
- Edgar M. Cortright, NASA SP; 350, Washington, DC, 1975 )
- The trip was marked by discomfort beyond the lack of food and water. Sleep
was almost impossible because of the cold. When the electrical systems were
turned off, the spacecraft lost an important source of heat. The
temperature dropped to 38 F and condensation formed on all the walls.
- A most remarkable achievement of Mission Control was quickly developing
procedures for powering up the CM after its long cold sleep. Flight
controllers wrote the documents for this innovation in three days, instead
of the usual three months. The Command Module was cold and clammy at the
start of power up. The walls, ceiling, floor, wire harnesses, and panels
were all covered with droplets of water. It was suspected conditions were
the same behind the panels. The chances of short circuits caused
apprehension, but thanks to the safeguards built into the command module
after the disastrous Apollo-1
fire in January 1967, no arcing took place. The droplets furnished one
sensation as we decelerated in the atmosphere: it rained inside the CM.
- Four hours before landing, the crew shed the service module; Mission
Control had insisted on retaining it until then because everyone feared what
the cold of space might do to the unsheltered CM heat shield. Photos of the
Service Module showed one whole panel missing, and wreckage hanging out, it
was a sorry mess as it drifted away. Three hours later the crew left the
Lunar Module Aquarius and then splashed down gently in the Pacific Ocean
- After an intensive investigation, the Apollo
13 Accident Review Board identified the cause of the explosion. In 1965
the CM had undergone many improvements, which included raising the
permissible voltage to the heaters in the oxygen tanks from 28 to 65 volts
DC. Unfortunately, the thermostatic switches on these heaters weren't
modified to suit the change. During one final test on the launch pad, the
heaters were on for a long period of time. "This subjected the wiring
in the vicinity of the heaters to very high temperatures (1000 F), which
have been subsequently shown to severely degrade teflon insulation. The
thermostatic switches started to open while powered by 65 volts DC and were
probably welded shut." Furthermore, other warning signs during testing
went unheeded and the tank, damaged from 8 hours overheating, was a
potential bomb the next time it was filled with oxygen. That bomb exploded
on April 13, 1970 -- 200,000 miles from Earth.