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Remembering The 50th Anniversary Of Apollo 13 With A Short Story By Tom Hanks

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Jim Lovell reads about his own rescue aboard USS Iwo Jima. (NASA via AFP/ Getty Images)
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Fifty years ago today the Apollo 13 mission took off from Florida, bound for a moon landing. Then, 55 hours into the flight, there was an explosion.

Jim Lovell, the mission commander, famously reported:

"Houston, we have a problem."

For days, Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert worked with dozens of flight controllers to solve a range of potentially fatal challenges to ultimately make it safely back to Earth. The mission became known as NASA's most successful failure.
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Lovell later called it "a real triumph of teamwork."

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Astronaut and lunar module pilot Fred Haise waits to be hoisted up to a recovery helicopter from the USS Iwo Jima. (NASA/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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President Richard Nixon meets the Apollo 13 astronauts in Honolulu, Hawaii, after their safe return to Earth, on April 23, 1970. (Harry Benson/Getty Images)

In 1995, the journey was chronicled on the big screen in a hit movie starring Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon and directed by Ron Howard that was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning two.

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Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson in Beverly Hills for the premier of "Apollo 13" in 1995. (Frederick Brown /AFP via Getty Images)
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Tom Hanks and Jim Lovell in 2010 when Lovell accepted the Lincoln Leadership prize in Chicago. (Frank Polich/Getty Images)

We were so glad to hear Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, who are longtime supporters of our newsroom, are back home from Australia and on the mend after testing positive for COVID-19.

In 2014, Hanks wrote a story imagining a more DIY trip to the moon titled “Alan Bean Plus Four.” It was published in The New Yorker. Here's an audio version for your listening pleasure: