“Houston, We have a problem” was originally uttered by Jack Swigert, an American astronaut, after he turned a switch on a routine procedure only to hear an explosion throughout the module. On April 11, 1970 Apollo 13 launched. It’s mission was to be the third time that men would land on the moon. Interest in this particular mission waned as most thought it would be boring. After all we’ve done this before and it was getting to be a routine after 2 successful trips. All of that changed with one flick of a switch.
Originally Swigert wasn’t supposed to be on the mission at all. He was a back up until Ken Mattingly was hurriedly replaced after he was unwittingly exposed to the German Measles. Now seemingly something awful had gone wrong and Swigert was blaming himself that somehow he didn’t do the procedure right. Mission Control was in a scramble as their controls were showing that the command modular was losing power. They would have to act fast as not only the original mission was in danger but the lives of the three astronauts were suddenly at risk. After putting their heads together Miission Control was guided by one of their top officers. He persuaded the commander that instead of trying to land on the moon they needed to bring the astronauts home safely. The decision was based on the fact that they were losing oxygen and they had a limited amount of time before it would run out.
Everything was up in the air as they were making their decision of what to do next. Meanwhile the interest on the ground was at a high level. What had been originally thought of as a boring mission was now on the front pages. It was decided that the original module would be discarded and the backup ship the undamaged Aquarius would be used even though it was only supposed to navigate the moon. They would power it up as a lifeboat to get them home. Through the whole movie problems came up. They had to power down all unnecessary conveniences so that they could have some power left. That included the heating and they ended up in a very very cold place. Through it all they solved problems. One time the original ship was losing all kinds of oxygen. Mission control had to simulate their situation. Ken Mattingly who did not end up with the measles was called in. He got in the simulator ship which was an exact model of what the astronauts were in. The mission was to make something out of their supplies that they had to plug up the hole where oxygen was escaping. Brilliantly they were able to do it on the ground and translate the information to the astronauts so they could make a similar piece.
All of the problems faced created an interesting and thrilling story. When I watched the movie for the first time I tried to remember if things worked out. Because it was based on the true story I knew they couldn’t wander too far from the truth. I remembered one mission where they got killed at takeoff but obviously this wasn’t it. This particular mission did not stand out in my brain. However I had a feeling that everything might turn out alright.. Of course I found myself cheering inside as problems that could have killed them all were conquered. It was a story of guidance, love, and the spirit to survive.
Isn’t that the same spirit that we have as we live our lives on this earth? There are going to be problems and we have to get through them. The good news is that we can have communications with the Master of the Universe! He knows how to get us through our problems and bring us home in victory!
At the end there was one final test. Would the ship survive re-entry into earths atmosphere? They always talked about the angle that the ship had to come in. The angle was a little off and it was feared that it could burn up. That fear was kept from the astronauts because there was nothing they could do about it anyway. They had it timed that once they lost communications they should gain it back in like 2 minutes. If they didn’t hear from them by then the chances they wouldn’t increased. Two minutes came and went and Mission Control was a somber place. They kept trying to communicate but no words were coming back. There was fear all around as the time went over 3 minutes and ticking. When everything seemed lost the static in the radio started to clear. “Houston, This is Aquarius”, Tom Hanks the actor said as he brilliantly portrayed Jim Lovell the astronaut. Cheers rang up in Mission Control and all over the country!
I have watched this movie many times. It is one that when I see it is on I get involved with again. Each time it brings tears to my eyes as I see their struggles and ultimate victory! I don’t think I would be so apt to watch it if it ended in disaster. Since it is such a good ending I am always rapped up in seeing it again. That is how it is with your life and mine. We are going to have problems while we are here but rest assured God is bigger than our problems. We can be comforted to know that our story will have a happy ending. We can go through our problems knowing that they will come to pass and that we will make it through our fiery tests. Are you going through trials and tribulations right now? Remember that this is what is making your story interesting. The saying goes “Without a test there is no testimony!” Be joyous in your tests knowing that everything turns out all right. How do we know? We know because we have been told the glorious ending of our movie!