Paper Example on Oxygen Tank Failure on Apollo 13

Published: 2021-08-11
578 words
3 pages
5 min to read
Sewanee University of the South
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In the history of the lunar landing, a program of NASA, Apollo 11 is was the first to create an impact followed by the infamous Apollo13. Termed the successful failure, this lunar landing mission, which was third of its kind, was aborted following the explosion of an oxygen tank that had the spacecraft crippled. Most narrations of the mission of Apollo 13 are centered on the aftermath; the input the technical crew and the engineers put in the time to have the survivors arrive home safe and sound. Nonetheless, their other side of the coin is less talked about; what happened to the spacecraft that caused the disaster initially (Anderson, 435). This paper seeks to investigate the system failure and the primary steps that led to the accident.

From the account of the event, everything was smooth from the time the spacecraft took off up to 9 hours into the venture when the crew felt the experience was rather boring. Fifty-five hours into the launch, following a routine stir of the oxygen tanks, which were cased in the cylindrical service module, those on board felt a bang wave through the spacecraft. The control panel raised an alarm with a warning and a caution lights going on (Kauffman, 440). They got a warning from the undervolt Main B Bus showing that an electrical unit, which provided power to spacecraft, was failing. It did not take more than 5 minutes before an undervolt manifested on the Main Bus A. The power remained on and the fuel cells seem to be failing. Fourteen minutes into the initial call, Jim Lovell, the commander, informed Capcom Lousma that their oxygen tank 2 had no gas. When he looked out of the window, Jim noticed that the spacecraft was expelling oxygen into space (Lovell 2006).

The heater in the tank 2 happened to be the big part of the problem. Examinations following Apollo 13 safe landing uncovered that the heating units thermostatic switch when heaters got a supply of 65-volt power, the kind of experts at Kennedy had been employing in the episodes of tanking and tanking cycles when the heater is running (Anderson, 456).

The switches were optimized and made for the use with a power supply of 28V lower spacecraft. The initial testing that took place at the Kennedy had the safety switches not operational. Moreover, with heater operational for a long period of time amid detanking examinations, there is a possibility that the tank overheated with 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, destroying the insulation of the tank in the procedure and make the wiring vulnerable to a short circuit (Kauffman, 443).

In conclusion, the event was ruled to be a human error in the lifetime of the tank and a flawed design. This led to some of the changes that were made in the cryogenic oxygen system especially in the service modules inner workings. the fans, which were initially aluminum, that stirred the tanks were changed to stainless steel. The heating units in the tank were altered in a way that different elements could function differently. Moreover, thermal systems in tank 2 were done away with following their failure. Finally, the wiring that was connected to the fans had to be insulated using the magnesium oxide and with help of stainless steel got sheathed.

Work Cited

Anderson, Brenda Lindley. "A Case Study of the Failure on Apollo 13: Based on TMX-65270, Report of Apollo 13 Review Board." (2011).

Kauffman, James. "A successful failure: NASAs crisis communications regarding Apollo 13." Public Relations Review 27.4 (2001): 437-448.

Lovell, Jim, and Jeffrey Kluger. Apollo 13. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006.

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