Apollo 13


7-12-04


Apollo 13 Paper


Apollo 13 was a mission to the moon that went wrong. The mission can be explained using physics. Physics was involved in every aspect of the flight. It all began with a smooth launch sending it en route to the moon. The launch was able to happen because scientists knew that a rocket recoils from the exhaust gases ejected from its engine. Each molecule of exist gas acts like a tiny molecular bullet shot downward from the rocket.


After a successful launch the rocket is able to fly towards the moon in outer space. Rockets are perfect for space travel because they carry their fuel and oxygen supply with them. In space, the burning fuel is ejected from the back of the rocket. This action produces a reaction force on the body of the rocket that allows it to move forward. There is no need for any air to push against for the rocket to work. Newton\'s Third Law allows us to say that the ejection of an object from the system must propel the system in the opposite direction.


Soon the problems arrive. During a routine procedure, a very large explosion occurs in the service module of the spacecraft. The real problem is that it begins to drain the oxygen needed for the astronauts to survive. In addition, it drains the electricity for the attached command module. The astronauts need to evacuate the current module they are in and go to the small lunar module. The problem is that the small module is only meant to keep two astronauts for less than a day. Their new mission is to return to earth safely. Their new journey will take them a few days to complete.


The crew decided to shut down the lunar lender and command module so that they can keep as much power as possible so that they can survive. They had to find a way to fit the air canisters into holes that did not fit. If they failed in doing so, the carbon dioxide content of the cabin air would rise to poisonous levels before the crew would have enough time to get back home. The mission control on earth gave them instructions to do this. They had designed and built a filtering device that worked. It had consisted on the few materials they had including duct tape.


Once they got through that problem they had to figure out how they were going to get back to earth. In order to get home, the astronauts had to make two engine burns. A rocket engine is generally throwing mass in the form of a high-pressure gas. The engine throws the mass of gas out in one direction in order to get a reaction in the opposite direction. The mass comes from the weight of the fuel that the rocket engine burns. The burning process accelerates the mass of fuel. The burning process accelerates the mass. The first burn was very successful and so they expected the second would be great too.


However, with the second burn they had much trouble. But they figured out how to use sightings of the Sun and the Earth to correct their alignment and then did the job over and over to make sure that they had it right. By doing this burn was perfect.