Thirteen: The Apollo Flight That Failed
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Thirteen: The Apollo Flight That Failed

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  54 ratings  ·  15 reviews
On April 13, 1970 an explosion rocked the moon-bound Apollo 13 craft, 205,000 miles from Earth, damaging engines and life-support systems. This minute-by-minute account of the only manned NASA mission to have malfunctioned outside Earth's orbit describes the entire episode.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published August 1st 1995 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published 1972)
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Clare O'Beara
Cooper's telling of the Apollo THIRTEEN mission was originally published in New Yorker Magazine, where he was a staff writer, and it has been reissued as an e-book.

For all the science and human achievement involved in this space mission, the reader is immediately struck by the contrast between standards of 1970 and of today. Observers of the travelling rocket, at Heuston, see a white blip appear on their monitoring TV screen but dismiss it - the screen "had been flickering and blipping badly"....more
Heather Domin
(I was offered a copy of Thirteen by the publisher and downloaded it via NetGalley.)

There was something about the style and structure of this book that I couldn't quite put my finger on; about a third of the way through I remembered that it was originally published in 1972, and that explained it. It's not sensationalized or heavily dramatized, nor is it structured like a novel in short punchy chapters; instead it's a very factual, linear account, chronicling every minute of the mission in a sty...more
Brian Clegg
Most of us probably think we know all we need to know about the Apollo 13 mission – after all, we’ve seen the movie (which isn’t bad at all) – but inevitably the Hollywood treatment skims over a lot of fascinating detail, while this book, written just two years after the event, gives us the true nitty gritty.

I found it absolutely fascinating, seeing the disaster unfold in slow motion, with all the messiness of real life. For instance, the ground controllers, unaware that an explosion had taken p...more
Rich Meyer
This is a rather captivating, if clinical, look at the Apollo 13 moon flight, which didn't quite go as planned. The account is entirely from the inside: At Mission Control and from the damaged spacecraft itself. Even with the multitude of acronyms and nicknames and high-tech (for then) talk, the book is a very interesting look at the event, which was perhaps popularized for a new generation in the sketchy though more dramatic Ron Howard film. This work was based on transcripts of the communicati...more
Henk-Jan van der Klis
On its way to the moon on the evening of April 13, 1970, spacecraft Apollo 13 lost one of its two oxygen tanks in the service module due to electric fusing and an explosion, which could be seen from the face of the Earth. Aboard, the three astronauts didn’t notice signals at first, as did their fellow ground control colleagues in Houston. The famous words “Houston, we’ve had a problem here” or the DIY carbon oxygen removal kit aren’t the focus of this story written two years after this ‘failed s...more
Casey Wheeler
As a matter of disclosure I was given an e-copy of this book by Henry S. F. Cooper with the understanding that I would post a review on Amazon, Goodreads and my blog site.

I must say that I found this book to be very interesting. It was published in 1972 shortly after the events surrounding the “unsuccessful” successful flight of Apollo 13. I have read a number of books on the United States space program through the Apollo missions. These have included “The Right Stuff” by Thomas Wolfe, a number...more
Houston, we have a problem...

On April 13, 1970, two bare wires created an electrical current that caused an oxygen tank to explode. Bad enough if this were to happen on Earth, but worse when it happens on a small spacecraft hurtling towards the Moon. This is the story of what went wrong on Apollo 13 and how the flight controllers and astronauts managed to bring the badly damaged craft home.

Cooper’s writing style is plain but clear. He has had access to most of the people involved in the mission...more
Jun 23, 2014 Celia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
The book is very technical and sometimes hard to follow... yet, I really liked the book because it portrayed the triumph of teamwork and ingenuity in solving how to get an injured space vehicle and its precious crew back to earth.

I am also impressed with the author's detail in the reenactment of the four days of the explosion and following the explosion. He has the timeline defined down to the second!!

I love it too when I can learn the real meaning of a word, rather than what I have been errone...more
Tells what happened during the Apollo13. Reads bit like logs of the flight have been lived up a bit, but makes a good and coherent story, which swaps between the space and the control room. Stays in very "center", very analytical take.

No matter how many backup systems there is, there is still risk that something goes wrong. Book mentions that couple of learnings for future missions were made based on this one, and would have liked get that kind summary at the end.
A good, interesting overview of the near-disaster that was the Apollo 13 mission. It's largely told from the perspective of Mission Control, which makes it a nice counterpart to Jim Lovell's book Lost Moon. There are times when Thirteen seems to breeze past some parts of the story -- but it also includes details I hadn't known before. It may not be for everyone, but if you have any interest in space exploration, I'd pick this one up.
Lloyd Hinkle
If you liked the movie "Apollo 13" you will like this. It gives a lot of details that didn't make it to the movie. It points to the fact that everytime we become too comfortable with a system involving a million moving parts our friend Murphy shows up to whack us in the head.
Karina van Schaardenburg
Such a crazy story. I almost don't believe this really happened. Hundreds of thousands of miles away from earth, using the sun and the moon out the window to figure out trajectories and positions in space. Explosions and faulty systems and an environment that doesn't care about life. It seems utterly impossible that this was going to succeed and it did anyway!
Linda K. Carman
Memory Tweeked

Really enjoyed reading this book. I do remember when this happened, remember the anxious feelings waiting to hear that the astronauts were onboard the carrier. The men that flew Apollo 13 and all the people on the ground who worked to get them home safely showed me the meaning of heroic.
Tracey Neet Niblack
Overall a good solid book. I knew about the Apollo 13 mission and events in the space capsule. This book is more about ground control and what the men back at NASA were doing. Easy and informative read.
Christopher Nieman
Published in the early 70s, this was the standard history of Apollo 13 for many years, until Jim Lovell published his book Lost Moon in 1994. Although Lovell's book has since surpassed it, this is still a very good account of the mission and worthy of its reputation.
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Henry S. F. Cooper Jr. is the author of eight books about NASA and space exploration, and was a longtime staff writer for the New Yorker. He lives in Cooperstown, New York.
More about Henry S.F. Cooper Jr....
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“He also telephoned the Real Time Computer Complex on the ground floor of the Operations Wing to ask that an additional big I.B.M. computer be brought onto the line.” 0 likes
“As additional precautions, Kranz requested that a two-hundred-foot radio antenna (called a deep-space dish) in Australia be added to the global network tracking and communicating with the spacecraft, and that additional computers at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland be what he called "cranked up" -- made ready for use. He also telephoned the Real Time Computer Complex on the ground floor of the Operations Wing to ask that an additional I.B.M. computer be brought onto the line.” 0 likes
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