Houston! We have a solution.Thirty years ago, the Apollo 13 crew on their way to the moon spoke those fateful words, "Hey, Houston, we've had a problem" Or as Tom Hanks recalled it, "Houston, we have a problem."
(No Tom Hanks was not a crew member.)
The Apollo 13 mission
suffered an explosion of an oxygen tank, which created a serious problem which might has left the astronauts stranded in space where they would perish. Mission control scrambled to find solutions to problems which would allow Apollo 13 to return to Earth. From the movie, which Tom Hanks was we all probably know something of this real life drama. perhaps, more than any other mission.
I am sure in the United States. as well as Canada, today there is some remembrance of this incident in the space program 30 years ago. If that was all I would not feel it interesting to blog on this but, for my American friends I doubt they heard the some Canadian engineers were instrumental in recovering the Apollo 13 capsule and crew.
Today, in Canada, these engineers were honoured.
They were academics at the Univesity of Toronto. They were contacted by NASA to do some critical calculations which would allow the safe separation of the Capsule and the Lunar Lander. There were under pressure to work out the calculations in a short period of time. They came to a conclusion they thought would work. If the calculations were wrong, either too high or two low, the Apollo 13 capsule and crew would be doomed. As it turned out they were correct.
It is worth remembering that 30 years ago there were no personal computers. The computers available to NASA were probably less powerful that a good personal personal computer today.
The Canadian scientists did not use a computer to help them make the calculations. They had a slide rule to assist them. I doubt there are many engineers today even own, let along know how to use a slide rule. Without a computer the task before the Canadian engineers would be more difficult than if they were doing today.
I wonder if Americans know of Canada's contribution
to the space program. American news seldom refers to any other countries contribution. I am sure they have at least know of Canada Astronauts who have been part of the building of the space station and experiments conducted there. A few might know that Canada's expertise in robotics created the Canadarm
the crane on the Space Shuttle and the Canadarm II on the Space Station. Officially is is known as the Suttle Remote Manipulator System. Without these the space station would not be able to be built. Well now some of you know that some Canadians, modestly but reliably, made it possible for the Apollo 13 astronauts to come home to mother Earth.