Apollo 13

Apollo 13 (1995)

75 corrected entries

(8 votes)

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.

Phixius Premium member

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: 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.

Tailkinker Premium member

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.

Tailkinker Premium member

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.

Tailkinker Premium member

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: 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.


Someone in mission control says it in a voiceover that seems like it was added for exposition to build tension for the audience related to the "Jack is new to the mission" subplot. The idea that someone in mission control would be unaware of the cross-training of the astronauts to handle each others' tasks in an emergency is a dubious claim at best. And Lovell had served as the CMP on Apollo 8 (which admittedly didn't have a LM to dock with, but he was certainly familiar with how to fly and dock the craft).


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.

Tailkinker Premium member

I think the point of the entry is that Lovell tells them to expect the jolt, implying that it was a feature of a Saturn V launch and that Lovell would be aware of it since he had experienced a Saturn V launch before, with Apollo 8. The scene as written is meant, then, to demonstrate Lovell's experience in spaceflight, even though the jolt would have been a surprise to him too.


Corrected entry: Many times in the movie, the Capcom refers to the CM and LM by their individual call signs, "Odyssey" and "Aquarius." In real life, those call signs would only be used when the LM had separated from the CM for a lunar landing. While the two ships were docked, as they were in this case for the entire mission, the single call sign "Apollo 13" would be used instead.

Correction: While this is true for a "routine" mission, Apollo 13 was not a mission anymore once it became "an emergency" situation. Remember that Lovell and his team had to use the Lunar Module as a "lifeboat" to survive the trip home. They don't refer to the Odyssey and the Aquarius separately until after the explosion. On a normal mission, the lunar module would not be attached to the SM or the CSM for the return trip. Using the call signs as opposed to similar sounding terms LM, SM, and CSM was also done to avoid confusion for the astronauts, as everything they had to do to get home was an unorthodox method that had never been attempted before, and the cold and lack of sleep was making it harder for them to concentrate.


Corrected entry: In the shot where Jim is with Marilyn, outside of their house right after the Apollo 11 landing, he blocks out the moon with his thumb. In the final shot, where he puts his finger in front of his face to hide out the moon again, you can see the shadow below his chest. It should be on his eye.

Correction: This is one of the most frequently quoted "non-mistakes" of Apollo 13. It is valid only if the moon was the ONLY light source in the scene, and it is not. There are three or four strong porch light to screen right. Moonlight is pretty feeble and the lights cast the far stronger shadow.

Correction: The only porch lights visible in the scene appear to be behind the actors and were a yellowish color. The light on both characters faces is white and intended to portray the moonlight. Even if the 2nd source of light was shining right on Lovell's face, the white light of the moon would have cast some kind of shadow from his thumb over his eye, particularly at the start of the scene while he was standing up. During that sequence, no shadow of his thumb could be seen anywhere, not even on his chest.


Corrected entry: At the meeting where Jim Lovell is informed that Ken Mattingly has been exposed to measles, and must be replaced by Command Module backup pilot Jack Swigert, Lovell complains about the last minute switch and says, "When's the last time he was in a simulator?" But Lovell eventually agrees, Swigert is put into service for Apollo 13, and he proceeds to intensify his training schedule. In one later scene he's shown in a simulator, being rather rusty and out of practice. But in an earlier scene, before the measles scene, the whole Apollo 13 backup crew, including Jack, were shown arriving at the simulator for practice. In reality, as a member of the backup crew, Swigert was in constant training and would not have even been considered were he unable to pilot the spacecraft.

Correction: I do not see where the mistake is in all this. Of course he would have not been considered if he wasn't up for it but the evidence you've provided is more opinion rather than fact. Lovell was extremely upset by Mattingly being replaced and what he said was more in the heat of the moment rather than being a true and accurate statement. Secondly the practice run Swigert went through wasn't evidence he was rusty, it was evident he didn't know how to handle that particular scenario. The technical staff afterwards discuss that even Mattingly didn't get that scenario the first time. Even so it was one mistake and we are only shown a few minutes of them training and not the hours upon hours they would have been training.

Lummie Premium member

Corrected entry: During liftoff, one of the five second stage engines fails. This is indicated by a shot of the control panel, and one of the five indicator lights is flashing with a buzzer going off loudly in time with the flashing light. In fact engine failures were indicated by having a light simply go out, and there was no buzzer. Director Ron Howard originally shot the scene accurately, having a light just turn off was visually uninteresting and did not convey the drama of an engine failure. After getting the OK from Astronaut and technical advisor Dave Scott, the more dramatic indication was used.

Correction: Artistic decision to convey the drama and assist the audience, not really a movie mistake. A typical embellishment which is quite permissible in movie world.


Correction: Actually the indicator lit up if an engine was generating less than optimal thrust (ie a shutdown) While you are correct it did not flash or set off a caution/warning tone, all lights would have been extinguished and 5 would be lit with a solid light.

Corrected entry: In the scene where Tom Hanks' wife is in the shower and drops her wedding ring down the drain, when she bends down to try and catch it, you can see the stick-on bra and light green underwear she is wearing for modesty purposes. Hard to catch it in full speed, but try frame by frame. Guess she (or director Ron Howard) didn't want to take any chances of nudity getting into the film.

Correction: As is stated in the rules of this site, if a mistake requires frame-by-frame to spot, it's not considered to be valid.

Tailkinker Premium member

Corrected entry: The real Jim Lovell is left handed and if you noticed Tom Hanks when he is writing down information is right Handed. Tom refused to attempt to write left handed.

Correction: He did not "refuse". He simply couldn't master the necessary skills in the time required. Nobody could - try it to see how long it takes.

Corrected entry: At the beginning, when they are discussing the Apollo 1 fire in January 1967, they state that 18 months after the fire Apollo 11 lands on the moon. In actuality, it is 30 months (2 1/2 years) after the fire that Apollo 11 lands on the moon.

Correction: Already submitted and corrected mistake. This was Walter Cronkite's real-life mistake on the air.


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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