Author Topic: Fate of Apollo 13 LM  (Read 2533 times)

Offline MarsMethanogen

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 476
  • Denver, Colorado USA
  • Liked: 8
  • Likes Given: 1
Fate of Apollo 13 LM
« on: 01/28/2009 02:38 PM »
I was a senior in high school during this mission, sometimes referred to as "NASA's Greatest Failure."  I am aware that the crew made use of the LM as a "lifeboat".  The entire vehicle (ascent and descent stages) remained attached to the CSM after the free return trajectory "slingshot" around the moon, used for the PC + 2 burn, and all the way back to the earth.  At that point, Aquarius was jettisoned from the CSM.  From that point, all that I know is that it then re-entered and burned up in earth's atmosphere.  Here are my questions.
1) Was there any kind of post-CSM separation burn of the LM descent engine to in any way affect it's reentry trajectory?
2)  Was its reentry tracked in any manner?
3) Did any remnants of the vehicle "survive" reentry and impact in the ocean(?).
4)  Regarding #3, I'm specifically curious about the lead cask that contained the plutonium associated with the RTG (located in the descent stage) that would have been used to provide electricity for the LSEP.  If it survived reentry, is it lying at the bottom of some ocean? 

In all my reading, and it's been extensive, I've never seen this addressed.

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32241
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 10895
  • Likes Given: 325
Re: Fate of Apollo 13 LM
« Reply #1 on: 01/28/2009 02:57 PM »
1,  no
2.  no, CM tracking was more important
3.  See #4
4. yes, and this has been documented intensively
« Last Edit: 01/28/2009 02:58 PM by Jim »

Offline Herb Schaltegger

Re: Fate of Apollo 13 LM
« Reply #2 on: 01/28/2009 03:07 PM »
The short answer is yes, the RTG survived intact and is in very deep water (Indian Ocean, if I recall correctly). Anyway, Google has tons of info on this.  If you want to limit it to accurate technical info, use Google Groups and search the sci.space.history group for usenet postings on this topic.  Subsequent surveys of the area have found no trace leakage of radiation or radioactive materials.
Ad astra per aspirin ...

Offline simonbp

Re: Fate of Apollo 13 LM
« Reply #3 on: 01/28/2009 05:11 PM »
The LM's entry was specifically designed so that the RTG ended up in the Tonga Trench...

Simon ;)

Offline I14R10

  • Mars Terraformer
  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 293
  • Croatia
  • Liked: 4
  • Likes Given: 17
Re: Fate of Apollo 13 LM
« Reply #4 on: 01/28/2009 05:18 PM »
The LM's entry was specifically designed so that the RTG ended up in the Tonga Trench...

Simon ;)

LM had RTGs? I didn't know that. Thank you for information.
"In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so others could reach for the stars"

Offline Herb Schaltegger

Re: Fate of Apollo 13 LM
« Reply #5 on: 01/28/2009 05:27 PM »
The LM's entry was specifically designed so that the RTG ended up in the Tonga Trench...

Simon ;)

LM had RTGs? I didn't know that. Thank you for information.

The RTG powered the ALSEP (Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package).
Ad astra per aspirin ...

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32241
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 10895
  • Likes Given: 325
Re: Fate of Apollo 13 LM
« Reply #6 on: 01/28/2009 05:27 PM »
The LM's entry was specifically designed so that the RTG ended up in the Tonga Trench...

Simon ;)

LM had RTGs? I didn't know that. Thank you for information.

The experiment package (ALSEP) that the astronauts were to deployed used one

Offline drbuzz0

  • Member
  • Posts: 49
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Fate of Apollo 13 LM
« Reply #7 on: 04/24/2009 07:03 AM »
Even though the RTG was supposed to be left on the moon, it was stored in a hardened cask which was specifically designed to survive a reentry in the event that the mission had to be aborted or otherwise ended up returning to earth.

The RTG is the one piece of the LM that would have survived but it's possible a few other bits and pieces came down in one piece and not completely vaporized or pulverized.   In any case, they would have hit the open ocean.   

Tags: