Apollo 13

Apollo 13 (1995)

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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?


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.


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.

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.

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.

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: 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.

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.


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

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.


Corrected entry: At one point on the return to Earth when they're about to make another burn, Lovell (Tom Hanks) looks out the window to his left at a stream of smoke or gas flowing by. At the left bottom corner a hand of the crew or someone outside of the ship is quickly noticeable, but even more so when you watch the scene in slow motion. The hand moves slightly, then quickly moves from the window as if the crew member realised what he was doing.


Correction: Watched this several times. What you see is Lovell's face reflected in the window not a crew member's hand.

William Bergquist

Corrected entry: After they open the capsule, look at Tom Hanks' face, it's a clean cut shave. In the next scene, they get off the helicopter they just got on and Tom Hawks is growing some whiskers. That isn't enough time for him to start growing a beard.


Correction: Tom Hank's face definitely has stubble on it after the splash down. The sun is shining on his face so it doesn't show up as well. Also, one can assume that when Hanks is shown getting off the helicopter, it wasn't right after splash down. These guys were very weak and Frank Haise was sick. It is reasonable to assume they would have been given fluids and had a little time before meeting with those crew members and the press, thus having more time for stubble to grow.

Corrected entry: When Jim Lovell rips off his biomedical sensors, he says "I am sick and tired of the entire Western world knowing how my kidneys are functioning." The biomedical sensors don't measure kidney function, only breathing and heartbeat.

Correction: Lovell is just expressing his anger, this is a character mistake, not a movie mistake.


Corrected entry: In the scene where the media is asking about the CO2 problem, Deke Slayton is sitting to the right of the NASA director, but at the same time mission control is telling the astronauts how to make the filter and when they finish you can see him patting one of the guys on the back. Somehow he is in both places at once.

Correction: While the two scenes may occur back-to-back there is no implication they are occuring at the same time.

Corrected entry: At the beginning of the film Walter Cronkite is narrating "a mere 18 months after the tragedy of Apollo 1..." The Apollo 1 tragedy occurred 27 Jan 67, while the moon landing of Apollo 11 occurred 20 July 69. The two events are actually separated by a little less than 30 months.

Correction: That's a character mistake, and a rather famous one at that. Crokite really DID make that mistake during that broadcast.

Corrected entry: As the spacecraft nears Earth the men in Mission Control remark that its angle of approach continues to wander away from plan. They figure out that it's due to the absence of the originally planned mass of moon rocks. This is wrong in several ways. First, it could not wander off course while coasting due only to the vehicle mass. From the time of Galileo it's been known that objects fall with equal acceleration (at a given distance) regardless of mass. Indeed, if that were the reason then the mass difference would not just be a lack of moon rocks, but also the extra unplanned mass of the entire lunar module. The actual reason was simply the slow leaking of gases from the damaged vehicle, acting as a low thrust rocket motor pushing it sideways.


Correction: As the men at mission control assumed it was due to moon rocks at the time, the film was just repeating what they said on the transcripts. So it is not a factual error.

Corrected entry: In the very beginning when we see Apollo 1 on the pad, astronauts Grissom, White, and Chaffee get in and there is a fire. In the film, the fire is started by a button they press, but in reality the investigation concluded that the most likely cause was a spark from a short circuit in a bundle of wires that ran to the left and just in front of Grissom's seat.


Correction: They never implied the fire was started by the button push. If you listen to the voice-over, which is occuring at the time the button is pushed and the fire starts, you will hear them say "We have a short.". You have to listen carefully because there are multiple, historical voice-overs playing at the same time.

Corrected entry: While Lovell is shown in the film using the Earth as a point of reference, Lovell actually used the sun.

Correction: During the actual burn, the earth WAS indeed used as a frame of reference in leiu of their guidance computer. At an earlier point in the mission, when their computer was still online, the sun was used as a reference point to see if the computer had correct information about their orientation in space.

Corrected entry: Okay, it's an accepted science fiction convention, but "Apollo 13" is supposed to be an authoritive, documentary-style film about a failed NASA mission, not a Buck Rogers space opera. So did there really have to be sound in space in this film?

Correction: It's supposed to be a reasonably intelligent portrayal of the Apollo 13 situation - it's not and never was intended to be a documentary, nor is it particularly done in the style of one. Some things have been fictionalised, characters have been combined, eliminated and so forth - ultimately, it's still an entertainment piece. As such, there's no reason why it can't use some of the standard movie conventions.

Tailkinker Premium member

Corrected entry: When Gary Sinese is trying to figure up a power-up checklist for the command module, there is talk there is not enough power. Two men yell that it is four amps. This is discussed in the book, and it was not four amps, it was more like thirty. The power loss was caused by an automatic system that tapped the reentry batteries in case of main power failure in the service module. I assume this was changed to four amps to heighten the emotional strain (four amps is more critical than thirty.).

Correction: Their use of power had to be reduced by 4 amps, not down to 4 amps - this is consistent with the book. Changing the sequence gained them some of this number, but they were still short, until the solution was discovered.

Corrected entry: Just after the explosion, there is a shot of Odyssey's instrument panel with the mission timer reading 91 hours and 34 minutes. The accident occurred around 56 hours into the flight. The next time the mission timer is seen, it reflects the proper time.

Correction: I have looked through the scene and shot numerous times, and there doesn't seem to be anything to show that its reading was 91 hours at any point in the scene. A few of the shots we can see the timer in the background but its not very clear and it looks to be about 56 hours on the timer. The shot before Bill Paxton reports a Bus B undervolt there is a clear shot of the timer is at 56 hours, 55 mins and 13 secs.

Lummie Premium member

Corrected entry: When Ed Harris is drawing on the chalkboard to his staff after the overhead projector didn't work, you can see the microphones over his head.

Correction: That's not a microphone, that's the pullstring attached to the screen he just raised.

Corrected entry: When they're approaching re-entry, the people at mission control are blaming the shallowing of the trajectory on the lack of moon rocks. In real life, the shallowing of the trajectory was caused not by lack of rocks but by steam venting from the LEM's cooling system, as the book correctly points out.

Correction: Not an error, since at the time they did believe that their trajectory was shallowing due to the rock issue, as the book points out.

Corrected entry: The explosion was not actually felt by the crew but in the film we see them thrown about in the cabin.

Correction: From a quote by Jim Lovell: "The message came in the form of a sharp bang and vibration. Jack Swigert saw a warning light that accompanied the bang, and said, "Houston, we've had a problem here." I came on and told the ground that it was a main B bus undervolt. The time was 2108 hours on April 13."

Corrected entry: In several shots where the Apollo capsule is shown traveling through space, the shadow of it is clearly visible on the starry background.

Correction: Point out one shot that shows the shadow. I've watched this film a billion times, this past time I purposely watched for these shadows. I see none.

Corrected entry: The movie is set in 1970 when all telephones in the USA were analogue and had a fixed connection. However, in the movie, the phones used are connected to modular jacks (the kind used everywhere for digital connections and that can be pulled out of the socket).

Correction: The RJ-11 connector was introduced and adopted by the USOC and eventually AT&T in the 70's It wouldn't be unreasonable to believe that RJ modular connectors may have been used. At the time, phone connectors in the US were a mish-mash of hardwired, those four-pronge dodads, and modular connections.

Corrected entry: As the spacecraft disappears behind the moon you can hear Swigert (Kevin Bacon) saying "see you on the flip side" and a shadow begins to fall across his face. Assuming the spacecraft's attitude wasn't changing at the time, the only way a shadow (presumably of the moon) would have fallen like this would have been if the moon's phase was full or close to full, as seen from earth. The lunar landings were planned for times when the sun was low in the lunar sky, to avoid intense surface heat, thus the moon was usually a crescent as seen from earth.

Correction: In fact, the moon was 55% waxing at the time of the explosion.

Corrected entry: When the astronauts are saying goodbye to their families on the pad at night and Fred Haise's wife and children appear, he tells his wife, "Frances, you look beautiful." Fred Haise's wife's name is Mary.

Correction: He says "Princess, you look beautiful", most likely addressing his daughter.

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Corrected entry: When Mattingly is getting ready in the simulator to try re-entry power-up procedures, he asks someone for a flashlight. The person who tries to hand him one starts grabbing for his flashlight before Mattingly asks for it.


Correction: The guy who hands him the flashlight does it very fast but doesn't go for the flashlight before he asks. You can see as soon as he says flashlight he reaches for it.

Corrected entry: when Marilyn is watching Jim talk about flying with no light in the cockpit, the carpet changes from green shag, to orange shag, and back again.

Correction: Actually, the TV is sitting on its own green shag carpet and the couches are sitting on the big orange shag carpet.

Corrected entry: The corvette Tom Hanks drives is the '70, '71, or '72 model, but the scene where we see him drive the corvette is in July 1969.

Correction: Actually he could have had a 1970 Corvette in 1969. In 2004 you can get a 2005 car, so it is possible.

Corrected entry: During re-entry, Walter Cronkite says on television that the heat shield was damaged in the explosion three days earlier. Apollo 13 splashed down on April 17, and the explosion was on April 13, so it was four days, not three.

Correction: Actually, the explosion took place at 03:06 on April 14, 1970, so it really was only three days.

Corrected entry: During the TV broadcast, Gene Kranz confirms with the EECOM that the cryo stir will be on both hydrogen and both oxygen tanks. But when the astronauts get the instructions for the stir, it is just on the oxygen tanks. What happened to the hydrogen tanks?

Correction: They could have been waiting for the OK on the oxygen tank stir to tell them to go ahead and stir the hydrogen tanks as well. They waited for confirmation with the roll before proceeding, so it makes sense.

Corrected entry: When the three astronauts travel around the moon, the radio contact breaks down. During this radio silence, they spot their planned landing site, Fra Mauro, on the surface of the moon. Just after this sight, Houston can get in contact with them again. So, only then, the spaceship comes out from behind the moon. But Fra Mauro is on the visible side on the moon, almost in the middle of it. How could the astronauts see Fra Mauro while they were still on the back side of the moon?

Correction: The visible "side" of the moon does not change, as the moon happens to rotate on it's axis at the same speed it goes round the earth. So far so good. Howver, it is perfectly possible to fly (or stand) in the middle of the visible side and not have radio contact with a given point on earth, simply because the transmitter you are trying to contact is over the earth's horizon from your point of view. They would then need to continue further on their trajectory to get radio line-of-sight back.


Corrected entry: During the launch scene, there is a shot where the plume of flame is going backwards, as if it is going back into the rocket.

Correction: This shot is not a gaff as it was shot this way. It IS a FX shot but look out for the falling ice. Rockets, like any other motor, need to be "throttled up" as a result the initial fireball is effectively "sucked" back under the rocket when it hits full power. All the Apollo launches showed this behaviour and the FX crew actually shot it using real fire and flame rather than add it as a post production digital effect. Ron Howard says so on the DVD commentary.

Corrected entry: When the astronauts have rounded the moon there is a scene where Houston is helping them to make a blind LM burn, we see Hanks and Paxton at the controls of the LM and Bacon timing them. Well Hanks and Paxton are standing velcro'd to the floor looking out the two large triangular LM windows at a distant earth. Hanks lines up the optical lunar distance rangefinder on the Earths terminator and they fire the engine merrily rocketing off towards the Earth. This is in error, the LM engine is under their feet pointing down and 90 degrees away from the imaginary line between the Moon and Earth. The astronauts should be looking out of the small rectangular docking hatch in the roof of the LM ABOVE their heads because that is where the Earth would be and certainly not out in front of them. Obviously the LM engine is not behind their backs when they fired it but under their feet pointing down so the Earth is opposite the engine and thus above their heads, not in front of them in the nice big movie friendly windows.

Correction: The original contributer is right, the way Tom Hanks is looking would mean that he would have to be 90 degrees to the line. But in real life, this was the way it actually was. On the Apollo 13, Jim Lovell was trying to correct the course, not move forward and correct the course., He was in no hurry to risk screwing his course up more. So the use of the "movie friendly windows" is correct, the computer animated LM is wrong.

Corrected entry: In the scenes at the Lovell's home, as the crew nears re-entry, the priest, (who is wearing Catholic priest clothes), is wearing a wedding ring.


Correction: Catholic priests do, in fact, wear wedding rings. They are 'married' to the Church. Nuns wear them as well - they are 'brides of Christ.' It serves the same purpose as someone who is married to another human wearing a wedding ring - it shows their commitment.


Corrected entry: After the spacecraft has lifted off and is in space, Houston tells the crew to shut down the engines. Just as Hanks says, "that, gentlemen, is how we do that," we see the engine turning off. A couple of scenes later, when we see the spacecraft heading towards the moon (with the moon in the backround), you can see a flame coming out of the engine and once again it shuts down, when it was already turned off.

Correction: This sequence actually depicts two separate burns, but is correct. The first shutdown of the S4B completed the initial ride into Earth orbit. After a quick systems check, the spacecraft is positioned for translunar injection (pointed toward the moon). The S4B booster is then ignited again to send the ship to the moon, which is what is shown in the film.

Corrected entry: On their way towards decent to Earth, there was a point made about them not being heavy enough, due to not returning "moon rocks". At this point they still have the base of the LEM attached, which is normally left on the moon. I don't know how much this weighs, but wouldn't this counteract any weight issues?

Correction: They'd already allowed for the LEM, they'd just forgotten about the moon rocks.

Corrected entry: When Lovell is talking to his wife on Earth about the moon she asks him where is her mountain (Mt Marilyn) He shows her it is near the top right of the moon's face. When he is behind the moon Bill Paxton mentions "There is Mt Marilyn" Then "Look at that Tsiolkovsky crater" Tsiolkovsky is on the far side of the moon so couldn't be anywhere near Mt Marilyn.

Correction: If you're in the right place, you can see the far side and near side at the same time - obviously not all of both sides, but it's like if you're hovering over the Atlantic you could see the UK and USA, even though they're miles apart.

Corrected entry: As the Apollo 13 crew is readying to "slingshot" around the back of the moon, burn calculations are being made by Houston which are relayed to the crew. Tom Hanks is calculating total fuel amounts in the various fuel tanks by mathematical addition using a slide rule. You don't add and subtract with a slide rule. You multiply and divide.

Correction: Wrong - the only time a slide rule is seen is when the crew are transferring from the Command Module to the Lunar Module and they need to convert the gimbal angles. Lovell (Hanks) is attempting to work out the conversions using pencil and paper. He asks for confirmation that he has got the figures right. At this point we see one of the flight controllers using a slide rule to check the calculations, which DO involve multiplication and division]. [Wrong again - the slide rule is being used when transferring the gimbal angles from the CM to the LM. (The offsets between the two would have been measured earlier in the flight.) The LM angles are the three CM angles with the offsets added or taken away. No multiplication or division are involved

Corrected entry: After their slingshot around the back of the moon, the movie's tenseness calms as Tom Hanks turns his head to look out one of the module's windows at the moon, and then turns his head to the other adjacent window to look at a serene view of the earth. The tenseness shouldn't have calmed. If the moon is on one side of you and the earth is on the other ... you're going the wrong way.

Correction: Correction - space modules don't have a "front" - they can travel in any direction at any attitude. He's going the right way, just not pointed in the direction he's going.

Corrected entry: There is a shot of Ed Harris, and lying on his desk is a pack of Camel cigarettes. On the pack there is a surgeon general's warning. However, in 1970 there were no warnings on cigarette packs.

Correction: Correction - apparently warnings were introduced in 1966. It's possible that the wrong warning was used (it changed several times over the years) - can anyone read it?

Corrected entry: At the part where they launch the Saturn 5 rocket the arms go the same direction. The arms are supposed to go one on the left, one on the right and so on. That is because the tower has to be balanced.

Correction: The swing arms DO arc away, 84 degrees in fact, in the SAME direction at launch - with the exception of the crew access arm containing the so-called "White Room" which swings 135 degrees in the other direction. Also, the film depicted the maintenance arms detaching one after the other as the shot panned down the launch vehicle - in fact the arms all swung away simultaneously, accelerating very rapidly as they did so, before braking abruptly when clear.

Corrected entry: When the Apollo 13 rocket is taking off the arms that hold the rocket in place come off at different times, when they should have come off at the same time or the rocket would have crashed.

Correction: The arms holding the rocket in place are at the base of the rocket, and we only ever see one of these. The arms further up just hold connections such as fuel lines and power cables, and only have to come off quickly enough so they don't hit the rocket - they don't have to detach at the same time.

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



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.



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