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50 Years Ago Today, Apollo 13 Had a Problem

April 13th, 1970 (at 10:08 EST), Apollo 13 - a mission that launched at 1300 hours and 13 minutes - had an on board explosion during a routine stir of the oxygen tanks that almost sent Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert spinning off into the void of space to die horribly. Instead, thanks to brilliant feats of engineering, ingenuity, courage and science from a huge collaboration of the people on board the craft and on the ground, they made it home safely.

Commander Lovell's calm, matter-of-fact monotone "Houston, we've had a problem. We've had a Main B Bus undervolt." not only created one of the most misquoted lines ever uttered, it's given a crutch to two generations of lazy, hacky sports reporters trying to be clever when covering a Houston team that's suffering misfortune.

Here's the story told by Lovell, with the actual "Houston" audio at the 0:40 second mark.

And the adventure not only inspired one of the truly underappreciated films of our time, playing Jim Lovell cemented Tom Hanks as Hollywood's go-to guy any time you need someone to play a real life white guy in command of a craft who keeps his wits about him and gets everyone out of danger. A role he hasn't relinquished in the 25 years since. 

It's just mind-boggling to think the real Apollo 13 mission was as old when "Apollo 13" came out as the movie is to us today. One of my definite all time Desert Island Movies, and one of the great survival stories in American history.