To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13, NASA has launched an online experience in which you can relive the events of this harrowing mission as they happened in real time.
It was supposed to be the third lunar landing, but famously it was not to be.
The crew of Apollo 13, after launching to space on April 11, 1970, had to forgo their lunar jaunt after their service module was badly damaged by an exploding oxygen tank. The calm and heroic actions of James Lovell, John Swigert, and Fred Haise prevented catastrophe. Guided by NASA mission control and its support team, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17 after looping around the Moon.
To honour the mission on its 50th anniversary, NASA has launched Apollo 13 in Real Time, a multimedia project consisting “entirely of original historical mission material,” as it’s described at the project website. Viewers can either start their experience from the very beginning, or join an in-progress feed.
Apollo 13 in Real Time is equipped with a very cool dashboard, which includes information on the mission status, a rolling transcript of the dialogue, a clock showing elapsed time, and an assortment of photographs, among many other media elements. Footage taken from NASA mission control and television are also included, including 7,200 hours of audio and 600 photos. The transcript is searchable, so you can track down the moment when Swigert uttered those famous words, “Uh, Houston, we’ve had a problem.” And no, he never said “Houston, we have a problem.”
If that’s not enough for you, there are other Apollo 13 resources to enjoy. The entire audio archive can be found here, but I recommend this condensed 35-minute version of the mission. I’ve actually listened to the whole thing, and it’s well worth it.
A high-definition recreation of the lunar flyby, as it would’ve been experienced by the Apollo 13 crew, is yet another treat. The crew didn’t land on the Moon, but they had a glorious view, coming to within 254 kilometers (158 miles) of the lunar surface. This video was made possible by using data collected by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, which has been scanning the Moon’s surface since 2009.
Finally, you can use these Apollo 13 Lego minifigs to recreate the events while you’re experiencing the mission in real time. In addition to the crew, the set includes flight director Gene Kranz, who had a big role in getting the crew back home.