If Apollo 13 didn't make it

What would of happened?

Frankly it would have just been another footnote with the other astronauts who have died over the years like the ones on Challenger.

It might have led to the cancellation of the rest of the Apollo Project. Certainly to a long delay for re-engineering. It would certainly have led to a stronger anti-space political sentiment – already strong in the U.S. – and a longer, slower progress toward such things as space telescopes and semi-permanent inhabited stations.

If the Wright Brothers had crashed on take-off and been killed (the one who was flying belly-flopped onto the one who wasn’t flying) it would have set the progress of powered flight back by a few years…but not killed it.

The wise learn from disasters. The foolish are deterred by them.

if they had died of oxygen starvation and the capsule was heading back to Earth, wasn’t there a possibility that the capsule would have hit the atmosphere at such a shallow angle that it would have bounced off and entered some sort of erratic orbit around the Sun?

That movie would have been a lot more depressing.

Yeah, but think of the options for sequels each time the capsule re-apporached the Earth!

I doubt it would have done even that. A risk of dying was just the cost of doing business in the early days of flight (think of Lilienthal, for instance) and anyway, it’s not like they were the first…:smiley:

Nothing would of happened because things can’t ‘of happen’.

More a search for opinions, really.

Off to IMHO.

You meant ‘nothing would have happened’… :wink:

I’m not sure about the specifics of what would have happened, but aerobraking at perigee even if insufficient to bring the craft down on that orbit would result in an apogee significantly below lunar orbit. After leaving the atmosphere, the capsule would make another orbit followed by another atmospheric reentry, this time with a lower perigee and somewhat less orbital energy. Within a few orbits it would land or burn up.

Disclaimer: everything I know about orbital mechanics I learned from Kerbal Space Program.

I think it’s an interesting question, actually.

On the one hand, one could argue that humans had landed on the moon twice already, the goal had been met, (both humans on the moon and beating the Russians) and the science was a distant third goal. So we could have declared victory and ended the Apollo program.

But on the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that US political leadership would want to end on a failure. So I think things would have gone on in a very similar fashion. A delay between 13 and 14, learn what happened, and proceed.

(A note to the grammer police. Why complian about someone grammer when you still can understand the question, and you don’t ad nothin to the conversation? Does that realy make u feel that much smarter?)

A two-year delay before Apollo 14 while they re-evaluated the engineering and safety protocols. Probably a redesign of the Service Module systems.

I’m guessing the OP wasn’t alive then. I was.

The drama and excitement about all things Space was alive and well then. Space was important and everybody was following along. There was the kind of buzz that new social media apps have today. The difference was that unlike those apps where a tiny handful of people get super-rich and everybody else is just a user, there was a feeling that we, each of us, was increased in stature with each new triumph.

The pressure to keep Apollo 14 going more or less on schedule would have been huge.

As it actually happened we didn’t recover the defective hardware from 13’s SM for analysis on the ground. Instead they worked from failure modeling & limited telemetry to make small tweaks for 14 & launched. Had 13 proven fatal during the post-explosion recovery that would have made no difference engineering-wise.

Had 13 simply exploded comprehensively with no word from the crew and a sudden stoppage of all telemetry then there would probably have been a different path going forward because there’d have been zero info about what went wrong or how to assess the likelihood of it happening again.
All the public indifference to Space, and Congressional hostility to NASA spending on it (except in the few space-centric Congressional districts) took root and grew during the long hiatus after Apollo had achieved its PR goals and before the Space Shuttle first flew.

Had 13 happened in that environment we know roughly what would have happened. Something like what did happen following Challenger & Columbia. i.e. a major program re-direction and several years of soul-searching & re-engineering before continuing onwards.

In Apollo’s case that probably would have resulted in program cancellation & the rest of the Shuttle & ISS history being more or less as they really were, though perhaps delayed those few years. Apollo was already showing its age and performance & engineering limitations by the time 13 happened & 17 was in detailed planning. Much like post-Columbia, that mishap would have become the excuse needed to give the project a decent burial and move on to the next clean-sheet project.

We would have fixed the problem and continued on to the moon, just like we did after 3 men died on the launching pad during an Apollo 1 test. The fate of the planet was on the line, if we didn’t get to the moon before the Soviets we’d all be speaking Russian today, or so I was told.

Что ж, я выпью за это

Not to hijack the thread, but would there have been any push - maybe decades later - to send some unmanned mission to retrieve the forever-orbiting capsule with dead people inside and get it back to Earth or at least send it into the Sun or something?

But by the time of Apollo 13, the Americans had already landed men on the Moon. This wasn’t Apollo 11.

Oops. Good point. We’d give up in that case. That’s pretty much what we did anyway.

Unless it missed the atmosphere entirely it wouldn’t be orbiting forever. When they talk about “skipping off the atmosphere” the capsule wouldn’t be somehow launched into a higher orbit or anything. It just wouldn’t aerobrake enough to keep it from exiting the atmosphere for another go-round. But the next go-round it would pass through the upper atmosphere again, scrubbing off more speed, putting it in lower and lower orbits until it was going too slow to escape the atmosphere at which point it would either burn up on re-entry or land in more or less one piece.

Also, sending objects into the sun requires more energy than sending them literally anywhere else in the universe (providing you’re not concerned about how long it takes to get somewhere).