13 MORE Things That Saved Apollo 13, part 11: The Caution and Warning System

A plaque from the three Apollo 13 astronauts thanking the mission support teams.  Note the panels of the caution and warning system above the signatures.  Image Courtesy Jerry Woodfill.

A plaque from the three Apollo 13 astronauts thanking the mission support teams. Note the panels of the caution and warning system above the signatures. Image Courtesy Jerry Woodfill.

To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission, Universe Today is featuring “13 MORE Things That Saved Apollo 13,” discussing different turning points of the mission with NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill.

The air to ground transcript from the time of the explosion on Apollo 13 demonstrates the confusion of what was happening:

Jim Lovell: Houston, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a MAIN B BUS undervolt.

Capcom: Roger. MAIN B undervolt. Okay, stand by, 13. We’re looking at it.

Fred Haise: Okay. Right now, Houston, the voltage is – is looking good. And we had a pretty large bang associated with the Caution and Warning there.

Lovell then started to name all the Caution and Warning lights that were illuminating, including the Guidance and Navigation light, a computer restart, and indicators that there might be a problem with the oxygen and helium tanks.

The Apollo spacecraft Caution and Warning System had one intended function: alert the astronauts and Mission Control to a potential system failure. Plainly put, the Caution and Warning System allowed the spacecraft to tell the story of what was going wrong.
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Read the rest of 13 MORE Things That Saved Apollo 13, part 11: The Caution and Warning System (937 words)


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