50 Years Later: How U of T Engineering’s Institute for Aerospace Studies helped Apollo 13 land safely

It was half a century ago, but Professor Emeritus Phil Sullivan (UTIAS) will never forget the date of April 16, 1970.

“We got a phone call in the middle of a staff meeting,” he says. It was Grumman Aerospace Corporation, an American company contracted to build the lunar module for NASA’s Apollo 13 mission. There had, it seemed, been a problem.

Three days earlier, an explosion in an oxygen tank had damaged the mission’s service module. With their life support systems critically damaged, the crew — consisting of astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise — had cancelled their moon landing and were using the lunar module as a lifeboat.

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