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Tags: space flown,
apollo 13 flown,
nasa flown beta,
The flown material contained within this lucite is Beta Cloth taken from the stowage assembly aboard the Apollo 13 Lunar Module ''Aquarius'' during the famous flight. The Beta Cloth was used to cover wires inside the LM. The material in question was acquired from William Looney, the Lunar Module Test Manager at Grumman.
Approaching 56 hours into the mission, Apollo 13 was approximately 205,000 miles (330,000 km) from Earth en route to the Moon. Approximately six and a half minutes after the end of a live TV broadcast from the spacecraft, Haise was in the process of powering down the LM, while Lovell was stowing the TV camera, and Houston flight controllers asked Swigert to turn on the hydrogen and oxygen tank stirring fans in the Service Module, which were designed to destratify the cryogenic contents and increase the accuracy of their quantity readings. Almost two minutes later, the astronauts heard a "loud bang," accompanied by fluctuations in electrical power and firing of the attitude control thrusters. The crew initially thought that a meteoroid might have struck the Lunar Module. Communications and telemetry to Earth were lost for 1.8 seconds, until the system automatically corrected by switching the high-gain S-band antenna used for translunar communications from narrow-beam to wide-beam mode.
Immediately after the bang, Lovell reported a "main B bus undervolt", indicating a temporary loss of operating voltage on the second of the spacecraft's main electrical circuits. Soon after, the number 1 and number 3 fuel cells remained operating for only about three minutes before they failed. Lovell reported seeing out the window that the craft was venting "a gas of some sort" into space. Oxygen tank 2 immediately read quantity zero, and the number 1 tank quantity gradually reduced to zero over the next 130 minutes, entirely depleting the SM's oxygen supply.
Because the fuel cells generated the Command/Service Module's electrical power by combining hydrogen and oxygen into water, when oxygen tank 1 ran dry, the remaining fuel cell finally shut down, leaving the craft on the Command Module's limited-duration battery power and water. The crew was forced to shut down the CM completely to save this for re-entry, and to power up the LM to use as a "lifeboat." This situation had been suggested during an earlier training simulation, but had not been considered a likely scenario. Without the LM, the accident would certainly have been fatal.
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