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Archival footage (narrated by Walter Cronkite) reflects on President John F. Kennedy's call to action to bring the American space program forward to a landing on the Moon by the end of the 1960s, as well as the tragedy of the fire in the Apollo 1 capsule that killed three U.S. astronauts, as well as America's return to space soon thereafter.

On July 20, 1969, veteran astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) bears witness to Neil Armstrong's historic first steps on the moon in Apollo 11 from a party at his home in Houston. Lovell tells his wife, Marilyn (Kathleen Quinlan), of his wish for a moon landing of his own. A few months later, Lovell, who's expecting to fly Apollo 14, is giving a VIP tour of NASA's towering Vehicle Assembly Building while the massive Saturn V rocket is being assembled. As the US representatives question the need for any further moon landings after beating the Soviet Union to the moon, Lovell is informed by Deke Slayton (Chris Ellis) that he and his crew have been bumped up to be prime crew of Apollo 13. After informing his family of his new flight assignment, Lovell and his crew, Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise) begin training for Apollo 13 instead of Apollo 14. As the launch date approaches, Marilyn's fears for her husband's fourth space mission manifest in nightmares and her unwillingness to go to the launch. Two days before launch, Lovell is informed that Mattingly had been exposed to German measles. Despite his efforts to overrule the flight surgeon's recommendations, Lovell bumps Mattingly off the flight. He is replaced by the backup Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon), much to the chagrin of Haise and Mattingly.

On April 11, 1970, Lovell, Haise and Swigert are suited up for the launch. In Houston's Mission Control Center, Apollo 13 flight director Eugene F. Kranz (Ed Harris) prepares Mission Control for the flight. After the crew has been secured into the spacecraft, the mission is given the go ahead. During launch the middle engine on the Saturn V's S-II stage cuts off prematurely during its intended burn, which causes brief concern, but the astronauts make it into orbit without further problems. After performing the burn that will send the Apollo 13 CSM/LM to the moon, Swigert maneuvers the Apollo Command Module Odyssey to dock with the Lunar Module Aquarius.

Three days into the mission the crew make their first live broadcast from Odyssey, but the public television stations refuse to broadcast the live footage since the general public regards spaceflight as "routine" or "as exciting as taking a trip to Pittsburgh." After the broadcast, the crew runs through an in-flight housekeeping checklist. Swigert is asked to stir the cryogenic oxygen tanks, suddenly and unexpectedly leading to an explosion in the Service Module. The crew and Mission Control find that the oxygen tanks aboard Odyssey are leaking, prompting Mission Control to abort the moon landing, and the crew works to shut down Odyssey and power up Aquarius to act as a lifeboat so the crew can get home. On Earth, John Aaron, a flight controller specifically trained to deal with the electrical, environmental, and communication systems on the spacecraft, recruits Mattingly to help prepare procedures to restart Odyssey once the crew is near Earth. Meanwhile, the Apollo 13 crew shuts down Odyssey, powers up Aquarius and orients the spacecraft so they pass around the far side of the moon, while a melancholic Lovell daydreams of his first steps on the lunar surface.

After regaining contact with the spacecraft, the team at Mission Control has to deal with more problems. To conserve power the crew must shut down Aquarius and remain in the freezing cold. Swigert suspects that Mission Control hasn't given the crew a re-entry plan because they have made a mistake that can't be fixed and they don't want the crew to find out. In a fit of rage, Haise blames Swigert's inexperience for the accident, after which a full-blown argument ensues, but is quickly quelled by Lovell. Houston radios in with another problem: they must deal with the carbon dioxide being created by the three men in the two-man Aquarius. An engineering team in Houston assembles a crude method of removing the poisonous gas, fashioning an adapter that allows the Command Module's supply of air cleaners to be used in Aquarius.

As the spacecraft approaches Earth, the crew makes a risky manual course correction by burning the Lunar Module's descent engine in order to avoid skipping off Earth's atmosphere. Despite Haise's fever and freezing conditions inside the cabin, the crew succeeds in righting their wayward spacecraft. With Earth approaching, Mattingly's team struggles to find a way to power up the Command Module with what little power is left on the spacecraft. Finally, having realized they could draw power from the LM to the CSM to gain the amps necessary for power-up, procedures are finalized and Mattingly instructs Swigert on reviving Odyssey. After witnessing the damage suffered by the Service Module, the crew strap in for their descent into Earth's atmosphere. With one final good-bye to Aquarius, the lunar module that saved their lives is jettisoned. Odyssey re-enters the Earth's atmosphere, and after over four minutes of radio ionization blackout—three minutes is normal for re-entry—the crew reports that they are alive and well. Celebration rushes through Mission Control and in the homes of the astronauts' families. After splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, the crew is plucked out of the water and taken to the USS Iwo Jima for a hero's welcome.

The film concludes with a monologue by Hanks (as Lovell) about the events that follow their return from space, including the investigation about what caused the explosion onboard the Service Module, and reflecting upon the later careers and lives of Haise, Swigert, Mattingly and Kranz. Lovell shakes hands with the captain of Iwo Jima (the real Jim Lovell in a cameo) as the sequence ends with "I look up at the moon and wonder: 'When will we be going back, and who will that be?'"

Film Info

(2013)
2 min 29 sec Duration
5,208 views
  • Posted: July 07, 2010
  • Director: Naren Multani
  • Writer: Raghu Bhat
  • Studio: Unknown
  • Release: August 12, 2009
  • Cast: Bijoy Dowerha, Harry McCosker, Mangal Kenkare

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