Apollo 13

Apollo 13 (1995)

75 corrected entries

(7 votes)

New this month Corrected entry: When Engine 5 of the S-II booster fails, as Lovell is waiting for word from Houston, he stares at the abort handle. However, at that point, the escape tower had already been jettisoned, so turning the abort handle would not have done anything.

New this month Correction: The abort handle would still have jettisoned the command module.

David George

Perhaps, but jettisoning the command module wouldn't have been of any use in a launch emergency. The purpose of the abort handle was to get the spacecraft away from an out-of-control booster that might crash, explode, or break apart (which was the fear with the center engine malfunction), so simply separating the CM wouldn't do any good without the rockets in the escape tower (which had already been jettisoned by that point) to propel the CM a safe distance away from the booster. In practical terms, the abort handle was no longer any use to the astronauts after jettisoning the tower, so Lovell fixating on it when he does in the movie is still a mistake.

Corrected entry: Right before the command module begins reentry to Earth, a hurricane is on Earth. When the Apollo mission took place (April 11-17, 1970) there were no hurricanes, cyclones, or typhoons.

Correction: To quote Wikipedia: "On April 17, 1970, Apollo 13 was making its final descent over the splashdown zone when they spotted Cyclone Helen as they were re-entering the earths atmosphere. Mission control had been tracking the storm to make sure it did not interfere with the missions re-entry."


Correction: Jim Lovell says on the DVD commentary the typhoon warning really happened and was not added by the filmmakers.

Corrected entry: In the shot of Fred and Mary Haise at the Apollo 11 lunar landing party Mary is obviously pregnant. Apollo 11 was nine months before Apollo 13 and Mary is supposedly 8 months pregnant at the launch of Apollo 13. She does not have a baby during Apollo 13 and even if she was pregnant during Apollo 11 it would not have showed yet.

Correction: I disagree rather strongly with the statement "Mary is obviously pregnant" during the Apollo 11 lunar landing party at the Lovell house. We see Mary Haise in a few shots wearing her high-waisted white dress, and she does not look pregnant.

Super Grover Premium member

Corrected entry: When the astronauts are too shallow for re-entry because they are too light, it is mentioned they should have been carrying 200lbs of moon rock. Yet the lander portion of the lunar module, which is supposed to be left on the moon, is still attached to the ship all the way to jettison before re-entry, weighing far more than 200lb.

Correction: The weight of the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) would never play a part in NASA's calculations of reentry weight. NASA was only concerned with the exact weight of the Command Module as it entered Earth's upper atmosphere. The LEM was jettisoned long before the Command Module approached the reentry window and was never a weight consideration (they were only using the LEM and its oxygen supply as a "lifeboat"). And, besides, in micro-gravity the LEM and Command Modules were essentially weightless. As the Command Module reentered Earth's atmosphere, it was 200 lbs too light because it wasn't carrying the expected Moon rock samples. This lack of mass threatened to bounce the Command Module off the Earth's upper atmosphere, which would have been disastrous for the crew. If they had thought about it in advance, the crew should have cannibalized 200 lbs of equipment from the LEM before they jettisoned it, adding the necessary weight to the Command Module for reentry.

Correction: Mission control likely took what would have been the normal reentry weight and added in the weight of the lander and things inside it. But they forgot to subtract the weight of the moon rocks.

Greg Dwyer

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: "BPC clear" does not mean that it (and the rest of the LES) has been jettisoned. It means that the LES is ready to be jettisoned.

Corrected entry: Keeping the Earth in the window during the burn for trajectory correction is inaccurate because if the LM were pointing toward the earth, the window would be underneath the craft and the earth wouldn't be visible through the window. The earth is visible to be artistically consistent. This is mentioned by Jim Lovell on DVD Commentary.

William Bergquist

Correction: Jim Lovell says he kept Earth in the window and that the LM was not pointing toward Earth. He says the LM was pointing 90-degs to the flightpath so that Earth could be seen through the window. The burn was not to speed up the LM, but to change the angle of approach to Earth, and that it was done while the LM was at a 90-deg aspect.

Corrected entry: 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.

Correction: Not true at all. There's plenty of docking video and astronauts are not wearing suits in many of them.

Corrected entry: Jim Lovell tells his son that it will take him and his crew 4 days to get to the moon, but when the crew is getting their pictures taken by the media the journalist says Apollo 13 is expected to enter the moon's gravity in April 13, only two days after liftoff on April 11. So where is Lovell getting this 4 days figure from?

Correction: The moon's (and Earth's) gravity field extends well beyond the physical object. The Apollo spacecraft entered the moon's sphere of gravitational influence around 60 hours after liftoff (2:13 pm local time). Therefore they would have reached the moon's gravity late on the 13th or very early on the 14th. It's likely the reporter was just being approximate with his estimate, not exact. It would have been about 4 days post-launch before Lovell and Haise landed on the moon (I doubt he would have told his young son that it takes about 3 days to get there, then they have to establish orbit, check instruments, get the LM ready, then land). Therefore, both are basically correct.

Corrected entry: When Lovell is imagining walking on the moon, he looks at the Earth, which is near the horizon. The Earth is far too large (or too close) in the shot, something he would have known as he had seen Earth from the moon on Apollo 8 while they orbited (and took that famous Earthrise photo).

Correction: A character imagining something larger than it should be is hardly a mistake.

Jason Hoffman

Corrected entry: In the scene just before everyone at the Lovell's residence watches the moon landing on television, Pete Conrad explains how he appreciates everyone coming to his dress rehearsal party for his Apollo 12 landing. In the shot just before he says this you can see Jim Lovell with a cigar in his mouth, but as the shot changes from a wide angle to Pete Conrad speaking you can hear Jim Lovell saying "Oh, sit down Conrad!" How can he be speaking so or at all with a large cigar in his mouth? (00:03:30)

Correction: It's certainly possible. It just takes practice.

Greg Dwyer

Corrected entry: The film features a portable cassette player. The first commercial portable cassette player (The Sony Walkman TPS-L2) wasn't released until July 1, 1979, 9 years after the Apollo 13 mission. (01:36:20)

Correction: It is not the Sony Walkman TPS-L2 of 1979 that we see in the film. It's the Sony model TC-50 that was used on NASA space missions. See here: http://www.walkmancentral.com/products/tc-50 (at this website we can also find the TPS-L2).

Super Grover Premium member

Corrected entry: When he finds out he is being bumped to the Apollo 13 crew, Lovell is giving a tour at the vehicle assembly building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In the next scene, he runs into his house, which seems to be in Houston - over 1000 miles away - to announce that he's going to the Moon in April, then races off to get back to training. It seems like an awfully long commute.

Correction: When he gets home Lovell is wearing a NASA flight suit. It was very common for the astronauts (who were mostly military pilots) to fly between Houston, where they lived, and Kennedy Space Center. They would typically fly T-38 trainer jets, which was the first supersonic trainer in the US military. So it is quite feasible that he immediately flew home to give his family the good news in person.

Corrected entry: In the scenes where all three astronauts are wearing their space suits, they all have a red collar on the helmet and red markings on suits. The LEM pilot (in this case Fred Haise) would have blue markings and a blue collar so that Houston (and others) could distinguish between the Commander and the LEM pilot when they were on the moon.

Correction: The colours of the suit collars are in fact, correct. The difference in colour on previous flights was not to tell them apart from Houston (impossible with the black and white camera on Apollo 11). It was so the ground crew could tell the difference between an A7L (original / blue colour) and an A7Lb (upgraded / red colour) suit. The vent ports in the helmet wouldn't line up if the two styles of suits were mixed, so they changed the colour of the components to avoid that problem. By Apollo 13 astronauts only used A7Lb suits with red collars.

In addition, it was Lovell's suit that has red stripes on it (seen in the moonwalk daydream sequence) to distinguish between it and Haise when they would be on the moon. Apollo 11 and 12 suits had no such markings, so distinguishing between the astronauts was difficult, leading to the addition of the red stripes on the commander's suit.


Corrected entry: When Deke tells Lovell that Mattingly will have to be removed from the flight, he says that if Lovell is unwilling to go with Swigert, the entire crew will be bumped to a later mission. Even if this really had been Lovell's decision to make (which it almost certainly wasn't in real life), there is no way that all three astronauts could have been bumped to a later mission. Even if the entire backup crew could have been brought up to speed in a week, they could not have flown Apollo 13, given that Charlie Duke (Fred Haise's backup as LEM pilot) had the measles.

Correction: The CMP for Apollo 14 (Stu Roosa), could have taken the flight in place of Duke as he had been training for 13 before Mattingly even got assigned to it, and was currently training for 14. Couple that with the fact that a CMP would really have the same job on the two flights, unlike the LMP which would have trained for entirely different surface activities from a different mission.

Nathan McWhorter

Corrected entry: When the astronauts and their families gather around the television to watch the Apollo 11 moon landing, Neil Armstrong is shown on the TV set coming down the ladder normally, top to bottom of the screen. In the actual historical event, the network's TV feed was upside down, with Armstrong appearing to ascend from bottom to top. The surface of the moon appeared at the top of the screen. Moments later, the network corrected the feed.

Correction: When we first see the TV showing the picture from the moon, it is upside-down as expected. In other words, the movie shows exactly what you think should have happened - an upside-down image at first, subsequently right-side-up. The timing may be out; I don't know when it was flipped.

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, had ridden with one of them, or was just standing next to it.

raywest Premium member

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.

Factual error: When Lovell's daughter is complaining that the Beatles have broken up, she slams the album Let It Be into her rack. The scene takes place on the day of the initial explosion aboard Apollo 13, April 13 1970 - immediately prior to the Lovell family attending the screening of a television broadcast from the spacecraft. Let It Be was not released as an album until May 9th, 1970.

More mistakes in Apollo 13

Gene Kranz: I don't care about what anything was *designed* to do. I care about what it *can* do.

More quotes from Apollo 13
Apollo 13 mistake picture

Trivia: The Captain of the Iwo-Jima who Tom Hanks talks to at the end of the movie is the real Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell.

More trivia for Apollo 13

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