April 13, 2010 -- It took just one sentence to get the world to pay attention to the Apollo 13 mission.
"Houston, we have a problem."
But in fact, those words, immortalized by Tom Hanks in the 1995 film "Apollo 13," were not quite right.
The actual sentences, uttered with amazing calm by lunar module pilot Fred Haise went like this:
Fred Haise: "OK, Houston, we've had a problem here."< /br> Mission Control: "This is Houston, say again please."< /br> Fred Haise: "Houston, we've had a problem."< /br>
Forty years ago this week, on the third day after liftoff, the crew was just finishing a 49-minute TV broadcast showing how they were living and working in space.
"This is the crew of Apollo 13 wishing everybody there a nice evening," said astronaut James Lovell. "And we're just about ready to close out our inspection of Aquarius and get back for a pleasant evening in Odyssey. Good night."
Nine minutes later, one of the craft's oxygen tanks blew up, causing the other to fail as well. Electricity, light and water were lost.
The crew was 200,000 miles from Earth.
Thirteen minutes after the explosion, Lovell noticed the final piece of evidence, pointing towards catastrophe. The spacecraft was venting oxygen, losing precious air quickly from the last oxygen tank left.
News spread fast back home.
"The Apollo 13 spacecraft has had a serious power supply malfunction," Jules Bergman reported for ABC News in 1970.
Mission control scrambled together the only plan they thought might get the astronauts home. The three men exited the space craft into the lunar module, which was only built for two.
Cramped together, the men traveled around the dark side of the moon; gravity would slingshot them back to earth.
Monday night, the surviving Apollo astronauts and some of the heroes from mission control reunited to commemorate the mission that failed, the moment that sealed the heights of human courage.
Those who came included Apollo 13 commander James Lovell, played by Tom Hanks in the film, crew member Fred Haise and NASA flight director Gene Kranz, who was played in the film by Ed Harris.