Notebook From Ill-Fated Apollo 13 Sells Big At Auction
December 1, 2011

Notebook From Ill-Fated Apollo 13 Sells Big At Auction

It was during the ill-fated Apollo 13 flight to the moon that astronauts reported the immortal words, “Houston, we've had a problem.” During that incredibly risky flight back to Earth, commander James Lovell jotted down handwritten calculations in hopes of guiding his crew and craft safely home.

The notebook with those calculations was auctioned on Wednesday of this week in Dallas where it was sold to an unidentified American collector who paid $388,375 for piece of history, Marice Richter reports for Reuters.

Apollo 13 was intended to be the third manned flight to land on the moon. But an oxygen tank exploded two days after its April 1970 launch, badly damaging the spacecraft some 200,000 miles from Earth.

Michael Riley, senior historian at the Dallas-based auction house where the notebook was sold said, “Without this (booklet) the Apollo 13 crew would not have known their position in space. It helped create the greatest successful failure in the history of space exploration,” AFP news service is reporting.

This was the star attraction of a space memorabilia auction and was part of retired commander Lovell´s personal collection of artifacts. Lovell, now 83, said he had not given any thought to the notebook until recently.

“I was cleaning out some old stuff on a bookcase and found it,” said Lovell. “My kids took all they wanted and I donated a lot of my collection to museums. I decided to put this up for auction so that someone who is really interested in this piece of history can enjoy it,” he told Reuters.

The notebook includes several inked notes and “very significant” pencil calculations made by Lovell on the document. It also includes a blue Post-it that Lovell stuck on it some years later to explain the significance of the checklist.

Riley continues, “Captain Lovell has held this checklist book in his personal collection for 41 years and now feels it is time to turn over its stewardship to another person.”

“This checklist may not have made it to the moon´s surface, but it saved the lives of the crew of Apollo 13, captivated the world´s attention and is an amazing artifact of a moment that was, simultaneously, one of America´s darkest and proudest,” The Telegraph reports.


Image caption: The Apollo 13 lunar module Aquarius is jettisoned above the Earth after serving as a lifeboat for four days. It reentered Earth's atmosphere over Fiji and burned up. Credit: NASA


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