Apollo 13

Apollo 13 (1995)

51 mistakes

(9 votes)

Factual error: When they're flying around the backside of the moon, they mention the Tsiolkovskiy crater on the lunar farside, then mention they can see Mare Tranquillitatis and Fra Mauro - which are on opposite sides of the moon.


Continuity mistake: After Houston reacquires contact with the spacecraft following re-entry, Gene Kranz sits down in his chair, obviously full of emotion. The camera then cuts to a wide shot of Mission Control before panning in on Ken Mattingly. Before the camera zeroes in on Ken, watch the top left corner of the screen and you can see Gene sit down again. (02:09:20)

Factual error: It is shown that people are casually having conversation next to the giant rocket-ship transporter, known as the 'crawler'. In fact, the crawler is so noisy that no one could possibly have a conversation near it. All technicians who 'drive' the crawler (an eight man crew) and anyone in the vicinity of an operating crawler wear sound-cancelling headphones whenever near it.

Deliberate mistake: During the scene where the astronauts are building the makeshift CO2 scrubbers, the camera zooms out of the lunar module through the window, and we can see that the interior of the lunar module is oriented incorrectly compared to the exterior. The tunnel leading to the command module is on the top in the interior shot, but on the left in the exterior shot.

Factual error: The White Team, led by Gene Kranz did not handle the launch of Apollo 13. This was done by Milt Windler's Maroon Team.

Apollo 13 mistake picture

Visible crew/equipment: Immediately after the accident, when Swigert is struggling to close the hatch, as he pulls the hatch away, just before he says that he can't get it to seal, a camera is briefly visible sitting in the tunnel through to the LM. (00:52:25)

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Continuity mistake: Just before Gene Kranz draws a circle on the chalkboard to indicate the Earth, the erased circles from previous takes can be seen. He then draws a hasty, sloppy unclosed circle, but subsequent shots a few seconds later show a neater, closed circle. (01:07:30)


Factual error: The Apollo 13-Saturn V vehicle was rolled out to the launch pad on 16 Dec 1969, not two days before launch, as portrayed.


Factual error: In the scene where Marilyn Lovell is in her backyard and she looks up at the jet flying over her house (presumably her husband), there is a contrail behind it. The jet is at too low of an altitude to produce a contrail.

Factual error: In the movie, Henry tells a White House rep that Blackout lasts for 3 minutes, and if they are not back in 4, then they'll know they didn't survive. This is actually not correct. During the Apollo program, blackout typically lasted about 4 minutes. Also, Apollo 13's re-entry blackout in fact lasted 6 minutes, not 4 as seen in the movie, which was 87 seconds longer than predicted.

Apollo 13 mistake picture

Factual error: During the launch sequence, a car that appears to be from the 1990's is parked in the background. (00:30:15)


Factual error: During the final voiceover, Jim Lovell says "Fred Haise was going back to the moon on Apollo 18, but his mission never flew." In reality, it was Apollo 19, not 18, that Haise was tentatively chosen to command.

Apollo 13 mistake picture

Visible crew/equipment: During the moon landing daydream sequence, Lovell is shown performing the typical low-gravity moon walk. The thin wires used to facilitate the hopping effect can be seen at the top of the frame, and stand out against the light metal finish of the lunar lander. (01:13:30)


Continuity mistake: When Lovell is writing the gimbal conversions, as Haise says the computer is up, Lovell is clutching the left side of the paperwork and writing with his right hand. In the next frame with the camera closely showing the conversions, Lovell's left hand is now holding the paperwork at the bottom (the left side of the paperwork is now clear of his left hand). (01:01:00)

Factual error: The remaining smoke plume after the Saturn V liftoff is about 80 miles too low. It's apparent that an aircraft flew over the space center to leave a feeble 'movie' plume. Also, when the Apollo 13 crew blasts out of Earth orbit, the ship is pointed straight at the Moon, meaning that once they travelled the 240,000 miles to the Moon's orbit path, the Moon would be several thousand miles to their left.


Continuity mistake: While the first stage of the Saturn V is fuelled by kerosene and LOX and burns with a bright orange flame, the second and third stages are fuelled by hydrogen and LOX, which has an invisible flame. In the movie all three stages burn with bright orange flames.

Continuity mistake: While the flight director (Gene) is talking to a guy about bringing the spacecraft's power down, there is a side shot of Gene saying: "that's the deal?" now, his hands are in front of him (playing with a pen) the very next shot he has his hands by his side and the man next to him has his head in a different position (a very short time to move your arms and head like that).

Other mistake: When Apollo 13 lifts off, you hear a voice saying something like 'Houston we have cleared the tower at 13:13'. However, when this is said the Saturn V rocket has nowhere near cleared the tower.


Factual error: Hanks as Lovell drives a red corvette. The real Lovell has said in interviews he drove a blue corvette.


Factual error: When Marilyn is talking to NASA on the phone, the phone has a modular connector in the handset. This would be fairly impossible since AT&T did not start installing them in houses until 1976. Prior to that they would have been hardwired. (01:03:40)

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

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Trivia: The exchange between Lovell and his wife about holidays ("you know that Easter vacation? There's been a change of destination ... how about the moon?") in fact took place in 1968, when Lovell was assigned to Apollo 8 and so missed his planned Christmas vacation.

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Question: Why did the Apollo 13 spacecraft need a parachute? They were landing on water not solid ground. It's easier to survive a fall when landing on water, so why would they need a parachute if they were landing on water?

Answer: Spacecraft re-enter Earth's atmosphere at extremely high velocity (thousands of miles per hour). Atmospheric friction slows the spacecraft descent somewhat; but, without parachutes, the Apollo spacecraft would still reach the surface traveling at hundreds of miles per hour. Landing in water at such high speed would be like hitting concrete, which would of course be instantly fatal. Hence the necessity of multiple parachutes. The Apollo program (and all early U.S. manned space programs) chose to land in the ocean for two reasons: 1) It was easier to track spacecraft re-entry from horizon-to-horizon at sea without visual and radar obstacles, and; 2) It was faster and easier to position several Navy vessels in the general splashdown location, then deploy helicopters to rapidly retrieve the astronauts and their spacecraft.

Charles Austin Miller
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