COVID-19: Houston, We’ve Had A Problem

Today’s post is only tangentially related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you check the calendar, this week marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 manned mission to the Moon. It launched on April 11, and followed two earlier Moon landings by Apollo 11 in July 1969 and Apollo 12 in November 1969. Unlike those missions, though, this one nearly ended in disaster.

In 1995, Apollo 13 was immortalized in a big-budget Hollywood movie directed by Ron Howard. Now, a researcher at NASA has put together a minute-by-minute audio-visual chronicle of the six-day mission. The chronicle features radio exchanges between the three-person crew and ground control at NASA, press conferences, even conversations between NASA officials and the astronauts’ families on Earth.

If you’re interested (and who isn’t interested in space exploration?), you can learn more in this Quirks & Quarks story.

And for anyone who is wondering what the COVID-19 tangent is, the 1995 movie starred Tom Hanks as Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell. And Hanks, if you remember, along with his wife Rita Wilson, was one of the first high-profile people to announce that he’d contracted the virus. So that’s the connection.

As well, the dramatic events that occurred during the mission captured the attention of the world and united everyone in the hope that the three astronauts would return to Earth safely. With all the sacrifices front-line workers and others are making to help people cope with the pandemic, a similar sense of solidarity is being expressed these day. So there is that too.