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Splashdown: Apollo 13 crew comes home safely 46 years ago Sunday

From left - Apollo 13 astronauts Fred W. Haise, James A. Lovell and John L. Swigert, left to right, leave a helicopter to step aboard carrier Iwo Jima in the Pacific ocean after their successful recovery on Friday, April 17, 1970. (AP Photo)
From left - Apollo 13 astronauts Fred W. Haise, James A. Lovell and John L. Swigert, left to right, leave a helicopter to step aboard carrier Iwo Jima in the Pacific ocean after their successful recovery on Friday, April 17, 1970. (AP Photo)

It was 46 years ago Sunday that Apollo 13 crew members returned to Earth following an explosion 56 hours into a flight to the moon.

Astronauts Fred Haise of Biloxi, Jack Swigert, and mission commander Jim Lovell endured six days in space while Mission Control figured out a way to bring the crew home, according to a report on Spaceflight Insider.

The mission lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970. On April 13, more than halfway to the moon, a spark and resulting fire ruptured the Number Two Oxygen Tank in the Service Module section of the Command Service Module causing a violent explosion.

The explosion caused the loss of all fuel-cell-generated electricity which led to many other complications, including a complete loss of oxygen and water supply from the CSM.

The astronauts used the lunar module, fitted originally to support two men for 50 hours, as a lifeboat, where they stayed for four days while they circled around the moon and then headed back home.

After making around the moon, the service module was jettisoned and all three astronauts moved back into the command module, where they re-entered the earth's atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean and were rescued an hour later.

Haise, who served on two Apollo missions, was with NASA 13 years before joining the private sector as a test pilot and executive for Northrop Gumman.

He has been the driving force behind the INFINITY Science Center, which opened in 2012 in Hancock County.

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