Apollo 13 flight plan features crew’s notes after explosion

The front page of the flight plan for the doomed 1970 Apollo 13 mission features a handwritten thank-you to its creator for his “perfect” strategy.

“To Bob- a truly perfect flight plan as far as we got. We know it would have led us by the hand the rest of the way also,” the faded cursive reads. “Thanks for this remarkable document which we carried to the moon on Odyssey 11-17 April 1970.”

The note is signed by mission commander Jim Lovell and fellow astronauts Fred Haise and Jack Swigert, who gifted it to flight planner Robert ‘Bob’ Lindsey following their safe return.

The flight plan features handwritten notes and adjustments to strategy following the explosion.

The flight plan features handwritten notes and adjustments to strategy following the explosion.


The 352-page document has remained in Lindsey’s family for the last 47 years, but they’ve recently opted to put it up for auction in New York, the Express reported. It’s expected to sell for between $30,000 and $40,000.

The Apollo 13 mission was slated to be the country’s third moo-landing. It successfully launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on April 17, 1970, but an oxygen tank exploded two days in.

The decades-old flight plan bears notes and scribbles from all three crew members — Lovell’s in a black felt-tip pen, Swigert in blue ball-point with Haise using pencil — detailing the changes they made following the blast.

Their notes eerily indicated a problem with the tank gauge just nine hours before the oxygen tank exploded.

“You can see all the new calculations, the new plans and the new procedures they had to follow to make it back alive,” Cassandra Hatton, vice president of the books and manuscripts department at Sotheby’s told Express. “Page by page you live the mission with them. I was very tense reading it.”

The blast killed electricity on the ship and forced the crew into a lunar module, which they used to complete a four-day orbit around the moon and return to Earth.


The four Apollo 13 flight crew directors who brought the crippled spacecraft back to Earth celebrate at their post in Mission Control at the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston as they learn of the command maodule’s successful splashdown April 17, 1970. From left are: Gerald Griffin, Eugene F. Kranz, Glynn S. Lunney and Milton L. Windler. 


The events of the dramatic mission have been famously portrayed in the 1995 film “Apollo 13” starring Tom Hanks as Lovell, Kevin Bacon as Swigert and Bill Paxton as Haise.

The mission is also known for the iconic line: “Houston, we have had a problem here,” which is regularly misquoted as “Houston, we have a problem.”

The flight plan, which is divided into seven sections including timelines and food logs, is up for auction on July 20.

“Houston, We’ve Had A Problem Here.” The Flown Apollo 13 Flight Plan APOLLO 13. 


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