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Mission Control insider reveals secrets behind NASA’s finest hour

30 September 2013

The story of Apollo 13 as told by David Baker – an English scientist who worked at Mission Control. Images include David’s Flight Plan, the launch, the lonely view back to Earth and the triumphant return. For high res images contact Spirit PR below

One of the few English scientists working at NASA during the Apollo 13 crisis in April 1970 has written an unprecedented new book, providing a fascinating technical analysis of the dramatic events that unfolded in space as the world held its breath.

When Apollo 13 was launched on 11 April 1970 nobody could have known that hidden within the millions of components of the 3,000-ton Saturn-Apollo launch vehicle and spacecraft were fundamental flaws that would carry the crew close to death.

Four times previously Apollo astronauts had flown to the Moon and this was to be the third landing. Instead, the flight very nearly turned into a catastrophe, its crew left alone in a lifeless spacecraft doomed to remain in space while oxygen slowly bled away.

The story of Apollo 13 is one of heroism, fortitude and resolve, from a team in Mission Control that refused to let go, from several dozen contractors who rose to the challenge of finding a way home for a crew unable to get back on their own, and from several thousand workers in hundreds of locations across the US.

It is also the story of three very special heroes, the crew members of Apollo 13: Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. And, above all, Haynes Apollo 13 Owners’ Workshop Manual tells the story of the complex technical challenges involved in returning the crippled spacecraft safely to Earth, explained in detail by an expert author who was there through it all in Mission Control during the six-day flight.

Dr David Baker, who worked with NASA between 1965 and 1990, was in Mission Control during Apollo 13’s flight and helped carry out verification checks on some of the consumables calculations vital for returning the crew safely to Earth. After the flight he was asked to prepare analytical evaluations for Apollo contractors and subsequently, as a result of his experiences in Mission Control during the near-fatal flight, he prepared analyses of mission failure mode mitigation work that led to new analytical tools for risk analysis. He has written more than 90 books on space science, engineering and technology, and on the politics of the space programme.

The information on this page is supplied courtesy of Haynes Publishing, please credit accordingly if you intend to use it. For more information or to request a review copy please contact Spirit PR on 0117 944 1415 or email Haynes PR

Haynes Manuals is the world's leading publisher of illustrated workshop car and motorcycle manuals, as well as producing manuals on a wide range of DIY, leisure and lifestyle subjects. These will continue to include motoring and motorsport related subjects. Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ. Telephone: 01963 440635 Fax: 01963 440001 E-mail: