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Apollo 13

Apollo 13 (1995)

64 corrections

Directed by: Ron Howard

Starring: Bill Paxton, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise, Kevin Bacon, Tom Hanks

Genres: Adventure, Drama, History

Corrected entry: In the television interview, when the expert is describing the tolerance requirements for re-entry angle, he asks the reader to imagine that the earth is a basketball and the moon is a softball, and that the two balls are 14 feet apart, which is about 16.8 times the diameter of a basketball. The distance from the earth to the moon is about 30.14 times the diameter of the earth. This means that the 14 feet should really have been about 25 feet. Finally, the expert says that the re-entry angle has to be accurate to within 2.5 degrees, which he says is like aiming for a target the thickness of a sheet of paper. 2.5 degrees at 30 feet is actually about 13.14 inches thick (even at 14 feet, 2.5 degrees is about 7.34 inches).

Correction: Re-entry angle refers to the angle at which the spacecraft will re-enter the atmosphere, presumably with respect to the earth's surface. That angle would have to be correct within 2.5°. This post seems to refer to an angle of trajectory between the moon and earth, which would not have been the concern in preparing for re-entry.

Corrected entry: When Ken Mattingly is watching the launch from a field, he is seen next to a gold and black corvette. The gold and black corvette was a paint scheme chosen for the astrovette which was leased to the Apollo 12 mission crew for a dollar for a year. There were three of these cars, leased to astronauts Pete Conrad, Richard F. Gordon, Jr., and Alan Bean, not Ken Mattingly.

Correction: He could have borrowed it from any of those men.


Corrected entry: When Jim comes home to inform his family that he is going to the moon, his teenage daughter comes out of her room to ask is she can wear her particular Halloween costume. Jim eventually says no, and she retreats into her room and the door slams shut. Jim walks to the door and the camera angle changes and you can see that the door is still open.

Correction: She closes the door, then you can see it re-open almost immediately as she shoos her brother out, and then closes it again.

Corrected entry: When Ken Mattingly is drinking from beverage cans, the cans are of a "necked" design (where the diameter of the top is less than that of the main body of the can). Necked cans were not actually produced until the 1990's.

Correction: Necked cans were on a number of beverages even in the 40s on up to the late 60s just ask any beer can collector! Perhaps even earlier too.

Corrected entry: Near the end, from one window of the spacecraft you can see a full moon. From the other window, there is a "full Earth." If you're between the moon and the Earth, one or the other would not be full. The sun does not go between the moon and the Earth. (If it did, we would not exist.).

Correction: Exactly why they weren't between the Earth and the moon. An Apollo trajectory had to take into account the idea that the moon moves and orbital mechanics dictates the astronauts would swing far away from the moon and to the side (past its eastern edge) before entering the Earth's sphere of influence. If the sun was directly behind them, the earth and moon would have appeared full from Aquarius at this point in the journey.

Corrected entry: After Jack Lousma's recommendation to stir the oxygen tanks, Swigert is seen flipping two switches to start the stir that causes the "problem". However, there is a mistake here. Anyone who is familiar with the Command Module Cockpit and Instrument Panel knows that you stir the O2 tanks by flipping the "O2 FANS" to the on position, while Swigert is seen flipping them off. What he has done is disengaged the cryo stir fans, not started them.

Correction: Actually the switches were in the center "OFF" position and he flipped them down to "ON." The O2 FANS switches were 3 way with top being "AUTO" middle being "OFF" and bottom being "ON." So what the movie showed Jack doing was correct.

Corrected entry: Right before the ship loses radio contact and goes behind the moon, a wide shot shows the ship heading behind the moon. In this shot, the ship casts a shadow into space which can be seen just above the ship. There is nothing nearby onto which a shadow could be cast, any debris from the explosion would be travelling off into space at high velocity in all directions.

Correction: Gas and debris did follow the ship for quite some time after the explosion. In an explosion, much fine debris is always created, even dust. Lovell's book even states the astronauts couldn't even detect the stars from the debris until they were possibly behind the moon in its shadow, blocking the light from the sun and eliminating reflected light from the debris that was following them.

Corrected entry: The consoles used in the movie were the actual consoles that were in the second and third floor MOCR (Mission Operations Control Room). The goose neck reading lamps did not exist, however. The shots of the hallways outside the MOCR in Building 30 were not authentic. Also, during the first two days of the disaster, the hallways on the second floor were lined with student chairs where programmers were working on the various scenarios for return and reentry. Ron Howard's dedication to accuracy is amazing because the information on the displays in Mission Control was authentic in format, the switch legends on the consoles were labels as they would have been and even the lights on the Keysets (the communication consoles with the telephone dial) were accurate in their color coding and in the flashing light indicating that a "talk loop" was active (monitor-only circuits were illuminated but not flashing).

Correction: His attention to detail is admirable, but at the end of the day this film is a drama, not a historical documentary. This entry is not referring to factually impossible things, merely factually inaccurate things (with the exception of the goose-necked reading lamps). Many, many things happened differently in the film compared to what happened in real life. None of those things constitute a movie mistake.


Corrected entry: During Lovell's moon walking sequence, his helmet shows a large blue and white Navy anchor. NASA EVA helmets were white with no insignia.

Correction: The helmet shown in the film matches Jim Lovell's real life helmet, he got permission from NASA to have the Anchor on his helmet since he was a Navy Aviator. The real helmet is on display at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL.

Corrected entry: During Jim Lovell's daydream of being on the moon, when Jim steps onto the Lunar Module landing pad, it wobbles quite freely. This shouldn't move as the Lunar Module would be solidly on the Moon's surface and the weight from the rest of the module would be pushing it into the surface.

Correction: As you said, it was a daydream. It was how he imagined it.


Corrected entry: At the bottom, right hand corner of the screen there is an opening on the set, where one of the crew members can be seen and it is cold, as you can also see his breath.

Correction: Where? When? This is far too vague - at least specify a scene so this posting can be verified.

Corrected entry: When Jim's wife has a nightmare about the mission going horribly wrong, she wakes up suddenly and there is a closeup of a brown eye looking around frantically. The actress has blue eyes in the rest of the film.

Correction: Watching the scene closely I paused the movie when her eye looks to the right of the screen if you pause it there you will see that her eye is blue. The reason it looks brown is because of the light from the window reflecting in her eye.

Corrected entry: Steven Spielberg wanted to make this movie. But the initial idea was to shoot it in outer space - extremely expensive and very risky, so he declined. Wonder how it would have turned out.

Correction: This seems farfetched. Source?

JC Fernandez

Corrected entry: When Swigert is being brought up to speed in the simulator (the re-entry simulation with the false indicator light), the Capcom announces loss of signal, but a few seconds later (right after the corridor light), the astronauts are talking to Houston again. (Note: this is far too soon for them to have come out of the blackout, since, according to the end of the movie, the blackout usually lasts around three minutes.)

Correction: Time compression. We could have watched them simulate the entire three minutes of blackout, but it wouldn't be particularly interesting and the film has better uses for those minutes at other points in the film. So they jump time a bit to keep the flow of the film. Absolutely standard practice.


Corrected entry: When Marilyn has the nightmare about Jim's mission meeting disaster, the Capcom says, "We show S4B shutdown," and then a few seconds later says, "when you get in the LEM." This makes no sense, because S4B (Saturn 4B Booster) shutdown happens before the LEM is even docked (and days before anybody would actually get in the LEM). Granted, it's a dream, but Marilyn Lovell was actually fairly knowledgeable about the way lunar missions worked, and you'd think that if she could dream everything else correctly (the layout of the capsule, for instance), she (or the filmmakers) would get that detail correct.

Correction: It's a dream. These are not required to make factual sense, even if the dreamer in question is well acquainted with the subject matter. I'm pretty knowledgeable about cats, and am therefore reasonably sure that they can't fly, yet have, on occasion, had a dream that involved cats doing precisely that. Factually incorrect, but that's dreams for you.


Corrected entry: When Jim Lovell is talking to his son about landing on the moon, he says his moon landing will be "Better than Neil Armstrong; way better than Pete Conrad." In fact, while Armstrong did make a less-than-stellar landing (hampered by low fuel and a problem with his targeting computer), Pete Conrad's Apollo 12 landing was nearly perfect.

Correction: So what? There's always a healthy level of rivalry among such people. If Lovell reckons that he can land better than his predecessors did, then it's not a mistake to say so; people are entitled to have opinions. Bear in mind that Lovell would consider Armstrong's landing, hampered by fuel and computer problems, to be a more impressive feat than Conrad's relatively mundane experience, so it's quite reasonable that he would rank them in that order.


Corrected entry: During the launch countdown, the voice-over says "7.6.ignition sequence starts.3.2.1." The sequence is supposed to be in real time, but "6" and 3" are only about a second apart.

Correction: The difference in the '6' and '3' is two seconds. Try saying "ignition sequence starts" in one second. It takes closer to two seconds to say it. 'About a second apart' suggests that its more than a second. Such a small discrepancy is negligible.


Corrected entry: Mission Control in Houston calls up "B.P.C. clear", meaning that the 'Boost Protective Cover' has been safely jettisoned during ascent. However, the call comes on screen before it is shown being jettisoned.

Correction: This could mean mission command is giving the go-ahead by saying BPC clear, as in it is now safe to jettison the BPC.


Corrected entry: When the astronauts are preparing to dock with the Lunar Module, one of the people in Mission Control says, "If Swigert can't dock this thing, we don't have a mission." In fact, all three crew members were trained to peform the LEM docking, and had Swigert run into any trouble, Lovell or Haise could easily have done the procedure instead. This is confirmed in the DVD commentary.

Correction: Presumably Swigert is the best trained since this is his primary task, it's a reasonable, if not necessarily correct, remark to assume that if he can't do it then nobody can.


Corrected entry: The scene showing the astronauts thrust towards the forward panels, and then violently back into their 'couches' is meant to show the massive thrust from the ascent and second stage engines. In fact, this sequence is inaccurate: The earlier Mercury and Gemini rockets did indeed create this massive 10 to 15-G load momentarily upon the astronauts, but the Saturn V did no such thing. The Saturn V never exceeded more than 2 Gs during any portion of lift off or ascent, and was in fact referred to as the "old man's rocket" by astronauts in reference to its relatively mild G-loads during flight.

Correction: This actually happened with the Apollo 13 mission. It wasn't supposed to, hence Swigert's sarcastic comment about "some little jolt", but a slight mistiming in the engine firing caused it.


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Fred Haise: It hurts when I urinate.
Jim Lovell: Well, you're not getting enough water.
Fred Haise: No, I'm drinkin' my rations, same as you... I think old Swigert gave me the clap. Been pissin' in my relief tube.
Jim Lovell: Well, that'd be a hot one at the debriefing for the flight surgeons... Another first for America's spacemen.



The astronauts are shown taking their suits off before docking, but in real life they were not allowed to do this, in case of sudden cabin depressurization.



The Captain of the Iwo-Jima that Tom Hanks is talking to at the end of the movie is the real Jim Lovell.


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